Three coaches and thirteen players have been named to the 2023 Eight-Man Football Hall of Fame. They will be inducted during ceremonies to be held Saturday, June 17 th at The Tom Osborne Family Sports Complex in Hastings, Nebraska.
The hall of fame is presented by the Nebraska Eight-Man Football Coaches Association and sponsored by Cornerstone Bank. The induction ceremony will be held at halftime of the 46th annual Sertoma Eight-Man All-Star Game to be played at Hastings College. Kickoff for the game will be 6:00 p.m.
There is truly some rare and remarkable talent all throughout this Nebraska Eight Man Coaches Association Hall of Fame Class of 2023.
The Class of 2023 includes: Players- Greg Bellamy (Farnam), Bryan Dutcher (Greeley-Wolbach), Ben Eisenhart (Culbertson), Matt Kern (North Loup-Scotia), Troy Kleffner (Spalding Academy), Jerry Liewer (Butte), Casey Lund (Newcastle), Chad Micek (St. Edward), Theron Troxel (Coleridge), Jeff Uher (Dodge), Coaches- Harlin Dormann (Leyton), Dean Filipi (Exeter-Milligan),Neil Woofter (Lewiston). Family Legacy- Tony Hoffman (Spencer), MikeHoffman and Andy Hoffman (Spencer-Naper).
*Farnam’s Greg Bellamy, a Swiss Army knife type All-State player back in 1975, could have made All-State at three different positions. Coaches from all over the state nominated him at offensive end, defensive linebacker and Kicker.
*The season that sticks out in my mind for Bryan Dutcher was his 2002 junior campaign when he led Greeley to a Class D-1, 8-Man State Championship. It was Dutcher’s extraordinary ability to audible plays at the line of scrimmage that enabled him to complete 149 of his 295 aerials for 2,583 yards with 38 touchdowns. Many of Bryan’s completions went to either Chris Williams or Jack Rother. Ironically, all three of those young men were locked in a three way battle for starting quarterback in preseason before the late, great head coach Dennis Hurlburt decided to go with Dutcher.
*Ben Eisenhart of Culbertson was one of the toughest high school 8-Man football players I have ever seen. The 2-time All-Stater roared for 1,889 yards his junior season, then topped that with a monster senior season 2,319 yards, setting a state playoffs, all-class single game rushing record with a staggering 445 yards against Banner County and a playoffs record with 7 touchdowns in that contest. Eisenhart also intercepted 22 passes his senior season.
Ben Eisenhart also flashed his all-around athletic ability by lettering four times in basketball and four times in track and field. He closed his prep career by capturing his third consecutive Class D state long jump title. Eisenhart twice earned the all-class gold medal for the top leap at the state meet.
Ben later was one of the most feared head-hunters on Nebraska’s suicide squads, striking fear into every Husker opponent who dared to field a punt or kickoff.
*Matt Kern of North Loup-Scotia, current day successful Girls basketball coach at York, was one of the finest quarter/backfield leaders I ever witnessed in 8-Man football. A TWO-time All-State selection at Defensive Back in both the 1993 and 1994 seasons, Kern led his team to a D-1 State Championship by defeating #1 Adams by a whopping 47-6 count. It was the worst whipping ever absorbed by the great Ken Cook. Kern threw just three passes in that rout, but all three were TD completions to 8-Man Hall of Famer Glen Snodgrass covering 19, 35 and 2 yards. He also ran for 99 yards and a score in that sweet win.
*Troy Kleffner of Spalding Academy could have been inducted as either a player or a coach in my opinion. Kleffner has tremendous head coaching success in the 8-Man and 6-Man ranks. A rugged, 6-2, 215 pound All-State lineman in 1981, Kleffner remains to this day, one of the best 8-Man interior players I have ever seen. Tough, tough hombre.
*Butte high school’s Jerry Liewer was just plain and simple…a STUD. He led Butte to the Class D-2 state finals two years in a row, winning it all in 1998. Liewer’s performance in that 1998 crushing of Loomis (59-12) may never be equalled. The Butte QB ran for 4 touchdowns and threw for 3 more in the first State Championship ever to be ended by the 45 point Mercy rule.
The multi-talented Jerry Liewer ran for 1,040 yards during the ‘98 state championship season, and bolted for a whopping 1,620 yards the next season as the Wildcats fell two points short of another D-2 title, losing to a terrific Dodge squad 34-32 in that 1999 championship tilt.
*Big Casey Lund-Newcastle-The 6-5, 215 two-Time All-State O-Lineman led Newcastle to an 11-1 season in 1990, losing only to powerful Kenesaw in the D-1 semifinals (36-20). Lund was also named the East All-Stars MVP on defense in the 1991 Sertoma All-Star game.
*Chad Micek-St. Edward-Cousin Chad was the last of the Legendary Micek brothers from St. Edward, and may have been the cream of the crop, although his older siblings may beg to disagree.
Chad Micek never had a lick of blocking until his junior season at St. Ed, but made up for it by breaking loose for 1,465 yards, then following it up in 1988 with a monster 2,093 yards his senior season.
During that ‘88 season Micek set a Nebraska Single Game rushing record in a win against a very good Silver Creek team. A short article actually appeared in the Chicago Tribune following Chad’s historic night, a game I witnessed.
“Tailback Chad Micek ran for 465 yards, scored nine touchdowns and added five two-point conversions as St. Edward (Neb.) defeated Silver Creek 76-56 Wednesday. Micek scored on runs of 47, 58, 11, 41, 28, 5, 7 and 28 yards, and on a 59-yard kickoff return. He carried the ball 44 times.”
Chad Micek was also one of Nebraska's finest hurdlers, winning several State Track Meet medals during his career for the Beavers.
*Jeff Uher-Dodge-A brutal, head hunting, two-time All-State linebacker during the Dodge Pirates magical State Championship runs in the mid-1990s. I imagine Uher threw more than one crushing block for the great Cory Eikmeier during that run.