We spotlight our 17th individual to be inducted into the Nebraska Eight Man Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame, Mr Jeff Makovicka, East Butler High School. More on Jeff below his bio.
JEFF MAKOVICKA – EAST BUTLER HIGH SCHOOL
Jeff was a dominating ball carrier for the Tigers in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. As a junior, his 1,831 yards and 264 points helped propel East Butler to a perfect 13-0 season and the 1989 Class D1 State Championship. He set playoff records for rushing yards and points and was named 1st Team All-Conference, 1st Team All-State, and D-1 Offensive Player of the Year. He finished his prep career with 3,754 rushing yards and also set rushing and scoring records in the 1991 Eight Man All-Star Game. Jeff later walked on at the University of Nebraska where his transcendent career would forever change the perception of Eight Man Football players across the state. He became a key member of the Cornhusker’s powerhouse teams of the 1990’s and was a part of winning 4 Big 8 titles and back-to-back National Championships in 1994 and 1995. After being selected as an Honorable Mention All-Big 8 Fullback as a senior, he signed as a free agent with the NFL’s Houston Oilers and San Francisco 49ers. Jeff’s career put a shining spotlight on the extraordinary athletes we have playing at the eight-man level in Nebraska. The NEMFCA is honored to welcome him into the Eight Man Football Hall of Fame Class of 2019.
All the Makovicka boys were 1000 yard rushers on my list so it is difficult for me to choose a favorite, but Jeff’s 1989 Championship season at East Butler certainly shines brightly.
You talk about a single game defining the career of a great player such as Jeff Makovicka, that ‘89 Class D-1 championship match with Bruning-Davenport had to be the big one in my opinion.
First of all, if you ask Jeff Makovicka today, there might be a good chance he would tell you they didn’t even expect an exceptional season that year, let alone win a state title. And remember, Jeff was just a junior that year.
Let me tell you a little about that D-1 title game with newly combined Bruning-Davenport. The game was played in Dwight on that frigid Friday November 17th and things looked pretty even-steven on the stat sheet before kickoff. Didn’t start that way though.
East Butler’s ground game chewed up the Bear-Cats defense in the 1st half on the way to a 32-14 halftime lead. Makovicka already had 3 TDs, running mate Dave Behne had one, as well as QB Ryan Komenda. But a funny thing happened on the way to the 4th quarter.
Bruning-Davenport came out full of fire, but nearly let that flame go out on East Butler’s 1st possession of the 3rd quarter. Only a stop at the BD yard line prevented a potential runaway by the Tigers.
So, here’s where it gets good……..
*Two plays after the stop on the Bruning-Davenport 6 yard line, the Bear-Cats 1000 yard man Justin Hoins scoots 63 yards for a score. Now it’s 32-20.
*East Butler loses a fumble on its next possession and 4 plays later BD quarterback Sam Hoagland goes in from the 3. Now it’s 32-26, East Butler still leads.
*You had to know this was coming. Bruning-Davenport head coach Kevin Madsen calls for the onside kick. Bear-Cats recover and the very next play Hogeland keeps it on a quarterback option and sprints 37 yards for a score. Now it’s 32-32 with 3:33 left in the third quarter and Makovicka and the boys are getting a little worried.
*Another onside kick by Bruning-Davenport is recovered by RB Lanny Keim and the Bear-Cats are in business. With East Butler still reeling, back on their heels, BD drives all the way to the 2 yard line and then it happens.
Ryan Komenda intercepts a Sam Hogeland pass, the go-ahead touchdown is averted, and Jeff Makovicka takes over. Behne scores once, Makovicka score twice more and East Butler goes on to win 52-40.
*So, why do I think this game defines Jeff Makovicka? The man carried the ball 46 times for 274 yards and 5 TDs, plus numerous tackles on defense and more importantly, he never gave up when faced with adversity. Hey, Dave Behne was no slouch with his 99 rushing yards on 18 carries that game, but it was Jeff Makovicka who ended up with that storied career at Nebraska and a stint in the NFL.
That, they say, separates the good ones from the great ones.
To this day, I still run into former opponent’s players who toiled on the gridiron against Jeff Makovicka and most just shake their heads and say; “a whole ‘nother level, way above all of us, man”
I like it. And so describes Jeff Makovicka.