Bellevue West O-Line Thunderhogs creating some openings. (L-R) #74 Tj Griffin, #73 Kameron Kodat and #72 Caden Linn. *(photo courtesy of Bellevue West high school)
Time for my favorite football bogs of the season, saluting those Friday Night Lights Heroes. Let’s get right to Week One.
*Thunderhogs, Jevyon Ducker - Bellevue West - Thunderbirds passed their first big test of the season by turning back a late Lincoln High rally to post a 49-43 overtime win over the highly touted Links. Ducker, who rambled for 1,707 yards and 32 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2017, picked up right where he left off a year ago.
Jevyon exploded for 239 yards on 34 carries and scored five TDs on runs of 2,1,1,2 and 3 yards. That Bellevue West Thunderhogs O-Line, as usual, cleared the way for the masterful Ducker. Three of those dudes pictured above, #72 Caden Linn (6-2, 240), #73 Kameron Kodat 5-10, 270) and #74 Tj Griffen (6-1, 315 pounds) and #70 Thomas Ault (6-4, 250) pictured are all just Juniors.
Keep a close watch on Michael Huffman’s team in 2018 because the regular season schedule is semi-favorable with Omaha North thrown in there on October 12th.
*Jackson Wright - Millard West - Was a shining star in his debut for Coach Kirk Peterson’s Wildcats. Wright zipped through the Millard North defense for 180 yards on just 14 touches (12.9/per) and three touchdowns. The 6-0, 190 pounder scored on runs of 12, 40 and 51 yards as ‘Cats blanked Millard North 35-0.
*James Admiraal - Lincoln Lutheran - The 6-0, 160 pound junior assumed the quarterbacking gig at Lutheran when heir-to-be Zach Claussen transferred to Lincoln East. All The Admiraal” did on opening night was tie a Class C-1 record with his 7 TD passes in the Warriors 47-0 trouncing of Omaha Concordia.
The Admiraal’s touchdown passes were caught by Cody Bliss (47, 24, 4 yards), Cayden Bergt (38, 61 yards), Collins Morrison (16 yards) and Trevor LeGrande (26 yards).
Keep up the good work Mr. Admiraal.
*Cooper Jewett - Elkhorn South - Eased the pain of finding a replacement for the great Moses Bryant in the Storms 27-21 opening night win over rival Elkhorn High. Jewett carried only 9 times, but managed to scoot for 131 yards and three touchdowns. Jewett’s scoring jaunts covered 78 and 11 yards. His third TD of the night came on a 14 yard paydirt reception from QB Drew Reetz.
*Chris Busby, Sabastian Harsh, Keegan Reifschneider - Scottsbluff - Terrific Trio made opening game day very unhappy for North Platte. Busby, the defending Class B 100 meters champion, rushed for 145 yards on 15 touches, hitting the end zone with runs of 3 and 48 yards. QB Sebastian Harsh completed 4 of 8 aerials for 145 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 34 more yards and a 9 yard TD.
All-State Keegan Reifschneider caught 3 passes for a fat 130 yards, including a 61 yard scoring strike from Harsh, in the rebirth of a rivalry game that was last played in 2003. Good to see Scottsbluff and North Platte renew that old rivalry game, especially on opening night.
*Camryn Berry - McCook - 6-0, 150 junior quarterback jump started the 2018 Bison season with an 8 of 9 for 202 yards and 4 touchdowns passing performance in McCook’s 41-0 drubbing of Hastings. Wide Receiver Morgan Fawver was Berry’s number one target, catching 5 passes for 183 yards and 3 TDs.
That McCook defense, led by DJ Gross, stuffed the Hastings offense to the tune of a minus 16 yards rushing and 66 yards passing. That’s 50 yards of total offense folks. Oooh, those Bison will be tough this season.
A.J. Jenkins - Wilcox-Hildreth - The brilliant 6-1, 180 pound Falcon senior can become only the 5th running back in Nebraska high school football history to rush for a thousand yards all four years of playing the sport. Jenkins had to pull off a gigantic final games of the season in both 2016 and last year just to go over the 1000 yard rushing mark.
Although seeing limited action in Wilcox-Hildreth’s 56-0 win over Red Cloud last week, Jenkins ran for 184 yards on 9 carries (20/per) and a touchdown and made 8 tackles on defense. Those rushing yards lifted his career total to 4,036 yards (59 TDs) in just 23 games.
Not bad when you take into consideration some 11-Man backs, who had the luxury of playing in back to back state finals (Moses Bryant), have logged 26 games in just two years.
A.J. Jenkins is a gamer for sure. Special talent.
*Wyatt Ehlers - Centennial - The 2017 Class C-2 All-State Quarterback needed only the first half to complete 10 of 11 aerials for 143 yards and 4 TDs in the Broncos 44-0 victory over Syracuse. Jackson Hirschfeld, another All-Stater, hauled in two of Ehlers scoring passes covering 13 and 34 yards. Max Tomes (6-0, 175 Sr.) caught the remaining pair of TD passes, covering 7 and 21 yards.
*Jake Ridder, Ethan Villwok - Fremont Bergan - Ridder took care of the passing game while Villwok balanced things out with the bruising ground attack. Jake Ridder,the 6-1, 185 pound junior, completed 19 of 28 throws for 303 yards and 2 TDs in the Knights 36-26 win over Logan View.Scribner-Snyder. Eli Hendricks had one of the receiving TDs (29 yards), while Jackson Gilfry hauled in the other, a 34 yard scoring grab.
The tough-as-nails Ethan Villwok (5-11, 195 junior), ran for 151 yards on 22 carries and three TDs to keep the Logan View/SS defense honest. This Bergan team will be a very improved team in 2018.
*Bryce Kitrell - Ashland-Greenwood - Sensational 6-0, 185 pound junior rambled for 140 yards on just 9 touches and scored two long distance touchdowns, covering 41 and 70 yards in a 27-0 shutout of Fort Calhoun. Kitrell, from a long line of Kitrell family greatness, already has a 1000 yard rushing season under his belt and is also a hold-your-breath, close-your-eyes, dangerous return man for Coach Ryan Thompson’s Bluejays.
*Will Gatzemeier - Bancroft-Rosalie-Lyons-Decatur - The 5-10, 175 pound junior BRLD signal caller served notice to Class C-2 that his Wolverines will be a contender this season.
In their 48-22 win over usually powerful Hartington Cedar Catholic, Gatzemeier completed 9 of 18 passes for 206 yards and 3 touchdowns, but also ran 17 times for 130 more and 3 more scores.
Gatzemeier’s scoring passes were received by Jaxon Johnson (15, 7 yards) and Lucas Vogt, who had a 47 yard TD reception. Will’s touchdown gallops covered 10, 2 and 5 yards.
This BRLD team, with 9 returning starters on both offense and defense, is far better than you think.
*Griffin Hendricks - Doniphan-Trumbull - The 5-10, 175 pound Hendricks quarterbacked Yutan to a Class C-2 state championship a year ago, but now he’s a D-T Cardinal since Dad accepted the Superintendent gig there this year. Didn’t take long for Griffin to get used to his new digs either.
In the Doniphan-Trumbull 42-7 opening night win over Wood River, Hendricks rushed for 133 yards on 16 touches and a touchdown, plus completed 10 of 20 of his passes for another 115 yards. The junior also picked off a pass on defense to start his year off right with the Cardinals.
*Josh Bailey - Johnson County Central - Ay caramba! This guy can run! In a 56-34 loss to North Bend Central, the 5-10, 210 pound senior runaway locomotive ran for 366 yards on 22 carries and 3 TDs. That’s 16.6 yards a pop every single time Josh Bailey was tossed the football in that Thunderbird backfield.
Are you sitting down for this? Remember, the dude weighs 210 pounds, man. All Bailey runs is a 4.65 forty, around a 12 flat hundred and is lucky to break a minute in the 400. Yet, Bailey escaped for touchdown runs of 80, 80 and 74 yards and was pulling away at the end of two of those long runs. Josh nearly had another long scoring dash, but the old locomotive ran out of steam after 47 yards. Too many shimmies and jukes for #27 on that baby, but still!
Josh Bailey is no fluke, friends. Last season, he ran for 1,106 yards for a 4-5 Johnson County Central squad and made 42 stops on defense. The young man is a bull. On that 47 yard scamper last week, Bailey was dragging several Tiger players before they finally wrestled him to the turf.
Very inspiring football player who has been on the honor roll at JCC the last three semesters. Love it.
*Delano Hernandez - Maxwell - A year ago in mid September, the 5-9, 165 pound Hernandez entered a game in the late stages and rushed for 25 yards on 3 carries……..against Omaha Central. After playing the past two seasons for Class A North Platte and compiling only 51 career rushing yards on 11 carries, Delano is now a shooting star for Class D-2, 8-Man Maxwell…..especially after last Friday evening in Morrill.
In Maxwell’s 88-40 route of Morrill, Hernandez carried 35 times for 435 yards and 7 rushing TDs. The shifty senior also returned a kick-off 74 yards for a score, giving the North Platte Bulldog transfer 532 all-purpose yards and 8 touchdowns in his maiden voyage in the game of 8-Man football.
Hernandez hit paydirt in the first quarter with runs of 50, 25 and 4 yards, then added TD dashes of 45 and 16 yards and that 74 yard kick return score in the 2nd frame. With Maxwell leading 60-34 at the half, Delano played only sparingly in the 2nd half, breaking loose for touchdowns of 61 and 19 yards in the 3rd quarter before calling it a night.
Welcome to 8-Man football, Delano Hernandez, and who sez #13 is an unlucky jersey.
***Up next, Week One Friday Night Lights football Heroes - Part 2