Adams Central's Nick Conant (#24/right) will be one of the top returning Running Backs in Nebraska High School Football in 2023.
*2022 Bobby Mills 1000 Yard Club*
Trent McCain-Ord..2,011 Sr. (C-2 Leader)
Breckan Schluter-Exeter-Milligan/Friend..1,930, Sr
Sebastian Boyle-Scottsbluff..1,926**, Sr.
Keenan Valverde-Pierce..1,900 Sr.
Wiley Ziegler-Bloomfield..1,613 Sr.
Becker Pohlman-Stanton..1,486, Junior
Cale Gustafson-Osceola..1,481 Sr.
Trey Connell-South Loup..1,383 Sr.
Trevin Weedle-West Point/Beemer..1,287, Junior
Ryker Evans-Hi-Line..1,268**, Sr.
Parker Borer-Boone Central..1,245 Sr.
Dylan Hurlburt-Ord..1,244 Soph ( Injured in game 3/2022, 1,244 rushing total came in 2021)
Riley Bombeck-Shelton..1,210 Sr.
Gaige Ritner-Wilcox-Hildreth..1,198** Sr.
Payton Prestito-Papillion LV..1,178, Sr.
Conor Booth-Wahoo Neumann Soph…1,131, Junior
Anthony Rezac-Omaha Westside..1,118 Sr.
Jack Bullis-Hampton, 1,073, Junior
Jackson Roberts-North Platte St. Pats..1,065*** Sr.
Josh Rojas-Lutheran High NE..1,065 Sr.
Quinn Bailey-Chadron..1,044, Junior
Gatlin Reimers-Palmer..1,044, Junior
Luke Holly-Sidney..1,005, Sr.
*11-Man Football Running Backs to Watch in 2023*
*Payton Prestito-Papillion LaVista (5-9, 185, Sr) - How good was Payton Prestito a year ago? Papillion LaVista went 4-6 in 2022 and Prestito rambled for 1,178 yards on 154 carries and 10 touchdowns. 709 of those yards (80 carries) and 7 of those 10 TDs came in the final 4 games of the season against Omaha Central, Creighton Prep, North Platte and 2022 State Champion Omaha Westside. This kid can run. Prestito gets out of that Papio backfield in a hurry and is in the defensive secondary quicker than a sneeze through a screen door. Don’t let Payton’s posted 4.9 forty speed fool you. The dude has extraordinary football foot speed.
*Anthony Rezac-Omaha Westside (6-3, 190, Sr) - Dual-Threat Quarterback who rushed for 1,118 yards/19 touchdowns and threw for 2,219 yards/19 TDs while leading his team to a Class A title a year ago. It doesn’t get much better than Anthony Rezac. A Real Winner here.
*Isaiah Weber-Gretna (6-3, 190, Sr) - Nothing fancy about Isaiah Weber’s 928 yards rushing with 12 TDs last season, just good old fashioned, hard-nosed football. Weber can also catch the ball out of the backfield and is an excellent linebacker when he is called on to play some “D”.
*Caden Vermaas-Millard North (6-0, 195, Jr.) - There are several reasons why Nebraska has already extended an offer to this young man. 1,216 All-Purpose Yards with 14 TDs, 867 yards rushing (9.4 ypc), 7 pass receptions, two punt returns for touchdowns and 41 stops on defense with 3 forced fumbles. And by the way, 32 of those tackles were solo stops. Vermaas possesses wicked speed on top of all his other fabulous football assets. Baller!
*Nolan Feller-Millard South (5-7, 170, Sr.) - Feller is a real darter that is stronger than an Ox. Last season, Nolan used his short stature, blazing quickness, and superior strength to break tackles on his way to 764 yards rushing with 6 TDs. Like Vermaas, this kid can slip through the slightest of openings in the blink of an eye or hit the corner and turn it upfield in a hurry.
*Caleb Richardson-Grand Island (5-10, 170, Sr.) - Richardson is a golden example of a typical Jeff Tomlin molded, tough as nails Islander football talent. Caleb is a very dependable runner (762/7 TDs in 2022) with pretty good speed and good hands out of the backfield. I saw Richardson play twice last season and was really impressed. Top notch football player.
*Jahmez Ross-Omaha Westside (5-10, 190, Sr.) - Ross is not only a dangerous running back (687/10 TDs in 2022), but is also a lethal weapon as a pass receiver out of the backfield or as a safety valve. Jahmez definitely knows what to do when he gets a football in his hands. I saw him twice last season and the kid has lots of tools and knows how to use them.
*Evan Hansen-Millard North (QB) (5-10, 170, Sr.) In eight games last season, Hansen compiled 609 yards rushing with 8 touchdowns, while completing 43% of his 68 passes for 596 yards and 7 TDs. Evan’s big game last season came against state champion Omaha Westside when he ran 21 times for 183 yards and a score and completed 10 of 20 passes for another 145 yards and a touchdown as the Mustangs threw a scare into the Warriors before losing 35-23. If Fred has the Mustangs throw more this Fall, Hansen has two great receivers in Pierce Mooberry and Cadan Vermaas.
*CJ Gauff-Bellevue West (6-0, 175, Sr.) -A concussion cut Gauff’s 2022 season a bit short, but the shifty, darting RB still piled up 559 rushing yards with 7 TDs. CJ (Clayton) really exploded in that Papio playoff game October 28th when he carried the ball a grueling 38 times for 210 yards and a touchdown in Bell West’s 42-20 win. Gauff also caught a touchdown pass in that one. This young man is a potential 1000 yard rusher with his ability to make people miss with his quick cuts and superior ability to read blocks.
**Brady Bousquet-Elkhorn South (5-8, 180, Sr) - Don’t let his 370 yards rushing and 4 TDs last season fool you. Remember, Bousquet played in the shadows of the best back in Nebraska in 2022, the great Cole Ballard. As Ballard’s backup a year ago, Brady Bousquet appears ready to step into the featured back role in 2023. This guy is thick, possesses power, but also has :10.9 speed in the hundred and runs with a low center of gravity which makes it difficult to tackle him.
*Sebastien Boyle-Scottsbluff (5-11, 215, Sr.) - Sebastien Boyle is probably the best back in Nebraska, considering his blend of strength, speed, elusiveness, power and his amazing 3,700 yards rushing the past two seasons. If he stays healthy, Boyle is headed to that coveted 5000 career rushing yard mark in Game 7 if he maintains his 168 yards/game average. This amazing Bluffs back has been held to under 100 yards rushing in a game just four times the past 2 seasons, piling up one 300 rushing yard game, seven 200+ rushing games and ten 100+ outings during his 22 game career for the Bearcats. Anyone that can average 8.3 yards a pop in 447 carries at the Class B level is a pretty special football player in my opinion.
*Evan Kastens-Waverly (6-0, 175, Sr.) - This kid can fly! I can tell you that Kastens wastes no time reaching top speed after taking a handoff and always takes the shortest route to the goal line. There are no wasted yards for Evan Kastens, who is masterful at following his blockers. Evan also has the ability to get tough yards after initial contact. His 994 yards on the ground and 11 touchdowns should increase in 2023. Tremendous football talent for a top notch football program.
*Tanner Gartner-Gering (5-11, 180, Sr.) - Hey, it's tough to grind out 873 yards rushing with 8 TDs, catch 18 passes for another 271 yards and a pair of scores, return TWO kickoffs for touchdowns, log 56 tackles on defense where he pirated 4 passes and recovered two fumbles for a team that won just two games a year ago. Talk about a player that does everything he can to get a win for the Gering Bulldogs. This dude gets the Gering Gridiron Spirit Award.
*Keenan Valverde-Pierce (5-7, 165, Sr) Keenan Valverde is The Man as far as Class C-1 running backs go. 1,900 yards rushing last season with 26 TDs for the C1 State Champions, and don’t forget the dude is the Bluejay’s place kicker. Valverde is a slippery runner and a tackle breaking machine who relies on his superior speed to pull away after shedding all those opposing defenders. Keenan really has a burst out of the backfield and oftentimes uses his short stature to hide behind his big linemen before turning on the Valverde jets.
*Treven Weedle-West Point/Beemer (6-0, 185, Sr) - Mother-of-Mercy, where has this lad been hiding? This Weedle kid is one heck of a football player, especially considering West Point-Beemer won just two football games last season. The guy has speed, vision and has broken more tackles than the majority of the backs in the state I’ve seen live or watched on film. You put Treven Weedle on a team like Pierce and those 1,287 yards rushing and 11 TDs would turn into 2000 yards plus and 20+ touchdowns in a heartbeat. Weedle also logged 60 bruising tackles on defense with 11 tackles for losses.
*Quinn Bailey-Chadron (5-8, 165, Jr) - 1,044 yards rushing with 13 trips to the house as a sophomore a year ago is pretty impressive. Bailey is gone to the house if he breaks free in the secondary with a football in his hands. His 55 tackles on defense was 5th best on the squad and his 5.5 tackles for losses was second best. Quinn Bailey has a very bright future for the Cardinals. Keep an eye on this dude.
*Luke Holly-Sidney (6-1, 195, Sr) - What does a 6-1, 195 pound running back who runs a :10.8 hundred meter dash do on a football field in Western Nebraska? Pretty much anything he wants. Last season Holly ran for 1,005 yards with 11 TDs in the same backfield with a quarterback that also runs a :10.8 hundred meters (Izak Doty).
*Kyle Peterson-Raymond Central (5-9, 180, Sr) - After beginning the season 1-4, Raymond Central’s Kyle Peterson began to get the ball with a little more frequency. Up to that point, the hard running junior had compiled just 212 yards on 60 touches with a lone touchdown against Malcolm in a 38-13 loss. In the final 4 games, Kyle Peterson rambled for 691 yards on 89 carries (7.7/carry) and 7 touchdowns. Raymond finished the season 4-5, Peterson ended up with 903 yards rushing with 8 TDs and will be back this Fall for more.
*Nick Conant-Adams Central (5-7, 160)- Whoa Nellie, this guy is one of the most electrifying runners in 11-Man football in this State. Nick Conant can do it all on the football field and has more dance moves with a football in his hands than Mark Ballos on Dancing With The Stars. The junior compiled 1,157 Total Yards (815 rushing/9 TDs) on offense and registered 60 tackles on defense with an amazing 41 of those being solo stops. He also picked off 4 passes and recovered a fumble. Pound per pound, Nick is one of Nebraska high school’s best football players.
*Isak Doty-Sidney (6-2, 150, Sr) - Dual-Threat quarterback threw for 1,190 yards and 11 TDs and rushed for an additional 800 yards with 8 more scores for the Red Raiders. Doty is a flier, placing 4th in the 100, 4th in the 200, 7th in the 400 and anchored Sidney’s 400 Meter Relay team that finished 5th. All this at the State Track Meet back in May. If Izak Doty breaks free in the open field, you ain’t catchin’ him!
*Brady Singer-Douglas County West (6-0, 190, Sr) - Tough Hombre! Singer bowled over dozens of defenders on his way to 795 yards and 7 TDs for DC West a year ago. Vicious blocker and sure handed, Singer is a head hunting tackler on defense. I would take a dozen Brady Singers if I coached a football team. This lad is a fine, fine football player.
*Drake Zimmerman-Ashland-Greenwood (6-0, 202, Sr) - Zimmerman is a lot like Brady Singer only bigger. This lad is a tougher than nails runner that can deliver a blow at the conclusion of a carry. Drake plays for an awful good football team in Ashland-Greenwood, so he will get his shot at a thousand yard rushing season. Very steady player who ran for 795 yards and 9 touchdowns last season and 603 yards with 7 scores as a sophomore.
*Harry Caskey-Ogallala (6-4, 220, Sr) - Harry! Dual-Threat QB with the perfect quarterback prototype frame of 6-4, 220. Caskey rolled for 780 and 12 TDs on the ground and 596 yards and a pair of scores through the air in 2022. And get this, Caskey lined up as a receiver and pulled in 14 receptions for an extra 255 yards and 3 TDs last season for 1,631 Total Yards. On defense, he logged 49 tackles with 35 solo tackles. He also punts and kicks off so there is no rest for Scary Harry, the Ogallala Flash.
*Brett Fraker-McCook (5-11, 173, Sr) - McCook’s Swiss Army Knife Man should step into a featured running back role this Fall for the Bison. Fracker rambled for 681/10 TDs last season, providing a nice compliment to the now graduated Adam Dugger and Jacob Gomez-Wilson. Brett can catch the ball out of the backfield and is a sure handed stopper on defense. You will be hearing Mr. Fraker’s name a bunch in 2023.
*Trent McCain-Ord (5-11, 180, Sr) - Nobody does it like super Head Coach Nate Wells at Ord. The Chants have been a Class C-2 power since 2018, earning a runner up trophy that year, then winning it all in 2021. Last season, Wells and the Chants pulled off a minor miracle after All-State Dual-Threat quarterback Dylan Hurlburt was lost for the season after exiting with an injury in game 3 versus Battle Creek. All the Chants did was move junior Blake Hinrichs to quarterback and kick start junior RB Trent McCain, who went on the explode for a massive 2,011 yards on 299 carries and 24 touchdowns before the 2022 season was in the books.
McCain was a Renaissance Man to say the least. The remarkable Chanticleer star immediately ran for 113 yards against Battle Creek after Hurlburt went out, then reeled off rushing games of 143 yards vs Gordon-Rushville, 179 against Gibbon, then ripped off 1,153 yards and 15 TDs the next FIVE games.
Not only did McCain bolt over the 2000 yard rushing mark, but went 2 for 2 passing, one being a 72 yard touchdown. He also lined up as a receiver, catching 5 passes for 98 yards and two more scores. He also piled up 249 yards on kick returns with a touchdown, punted the ball 23 times for a 35.3 yard average, made an incredible 80 tackles on defense with one interception that went for a 66 yard pick six. And in ALL those times handling the football a year ago, Trent McCain fumbled ONE TIME. Good Lord!!
*Conor Booth-Wahoo Neumann (6-2, 212, Jr) - This young man is already one of the best football players in Class C-2. Booth led a very top notch Neumann backfield in rushing a year ago with 964 yards and 18 touchdowns. The big fullback has very deceptive speed, having the ability to take it to the house on most carries. Booth returned only one kickoff a year ago, taking that baby to the house from 50 yards out. Conor also had 19 stops on defense and should have been named to the C2 All-State squad as a Punter when he averaged 40 yards a boot on 10 punts.
*Blake Hinrichs-Ord (6-1, 155, Sr) - Blake Hinrichs came in at QB after All-Stater Dylan Hurlburt went out for the season in game 3. Blake did a superior job in relief, rushing for 929 yards and 15 touchdowns and threw for 675 yards with 8 more TDs. Like Trent McCain, Hinrichs is a demon on defense, logging 40 tackles with 4 INTs and a pair of recovered fumbles. Where Hinrichs plays this season will be an interesting development with McCain and Dylan Hurlburt coming back.
*Trent Uhlir-Battle Creek (6-2, 225, Sr) - A no-brainer All-State linebacker a year ago after playing in 8 games. I firmly believe Trent Uhlir could start at LB for any team in Class A and flourish. This dude just has to strike fear into the hearts of anyone Battle Creek plays. Uhlir is Dick Butkus, Jack Lambert and Ray Lewis all wrapped up in a high school body. Last season alone, Uhlir had 61 tackles and now is up to 155 during his 3 year career. The Battle Creek stud also ran for 917 yards with 13 TDs, playing in only 7 games offensively. Trent Uhlir is a Mean Motor Scooter!
*Cale Peters-Mitchell (5-10, 210, Sr) - It’s safe to say that Cael Peters is one of Western Nebraska’s finest football players. Big dude who is a Dual-Threat quarterback that piled up 793 yards on the ground with 13 TDs, 861 yards through the air with 6 TDs, plus leading the defense in stops with 85 Excedrin headache tackles. Peters now has a massive 202 career tackles and can hurt you with his vicious hits. Cael is tough to bring down as a ball carrier and actually has a very strong arm as a passer. What makes his throws even more impressive is the fact he always seems to be rolling out when he attempts a pass, oftentimes throwing against his body with good success.
*Kyler Hellbusch-North Bend Central (6-1, 180, Sr) - Dual-Threat quarterback that accumulated 1,488 yards passing with 15 touchdowns and 704 yards on the ground with a head scratching no TDs. I like the way Kyler makes quick decisions on whether to throw the ball or run it. Smart dude that also makes great reads throwing the football. Here’s hoping the Tigers can get a few more wins this Fall so Hellbusch can showcase his talents in the postseason.
*Braydon Wobkin-Logan View/SS (6-0, 185, Sr) - Logan View/Scribner-Snyder won just a pair of games in 2022 but Wobkin did his best to pad that total. The junior RB ran for 698/7 TDs, but it was defense where Braydon sparkled, racking up a monster 77 tackles with 45 solo stops. Wobkin already has 150 career tackles in just 24 games, including 137 the past two years.
*Quinn Rosno-Hastings St. Cecilia (6-1, Sr) - Quinn Rosnoe had a nice season for the Bluehawks in 2022, rushing for 689 yards and a pair of touchdowns and 38 tackles on defense. Quinn should have a nice season for the Bluehawks this upcoming season despite St. Cecilia graduating a ton of talent.
*Connor Schutt-Wahoo Neumann (6-5, 195, Sr) - Dual-Threat quarterback Connor Schutt did not always carry that tag as a QB. Two years ago as a sophomore, Schutt put the ball in the air 166 times, completing 95 of those for 1,403 yards and 8 touchdowns. Schutt also ran the football 78 times for 275 yards, as Neumann finished 5-5 with an opening playoff loss to Hastings St. Cecilia (14-21). Things changed last season when Sophomore Conor Booth came along at fullback. Connor Schutt’s aerial game decreased from 166 attempts to 72 and his passing yardage to 768, but his touchdowns increased from 8 to 10. His quarterback keepers decreased from 72 to 45, yet his rushing yards swelled to 683 yards and 11 TDs with defenses focusing on Booth and senior RB Calvin Sassaman. Neumann’s regular season was very successful at 8-1 last year, but the Cavaliers were beaten by Lincoln Lutheran in the opening round of the C-2 playoffs, 31-21.
This is a new season, Booth is just a junior, Connor Schutt has two amazing seasons under his belt, and the Cavs are LOADED. I realize Class C-2 is a deep class, but keep an eye on Connor Schutt and his Neumann Cavaliers in 2023. This could be THE year.
*Chase Evans-Hastings St. Cecilia (5-10, 170, Sr) - Both Chase Evans and the aforementioned Quinn Rosnoe will most likely play bigger roles for St. Cecilia this Fall considering the graduation losses from last year's terrific squad. Chase is a speed burner like his cuz Ryker Evans of Hi-Line, so his 569 yards rushing and 5 TDs will likely increase in ‘23. Evans is also a dangerous pass catching threat out of the backfield, as witnessed by his 10 catches/146 yards in 2022. I think Chase Evans will have a very good 2023 football campaign.
*Dylan Hurlburt-Ord (5-7, 180, Sr) - By now you know about 2021 All-State SOPHOMORE QB, Dylan Hurlburt. Two years ago, the young sensation led the Chants all the way to the C-2 semifinals before falling to eventual State Champions, Fremont Bergan (20-0). Hurlburt rushed for 1,244 yards with 22 TDs and threw for 894 more with an additional 15 scores that year.
When he went out against Battle Creek a year ago in Game 3, he had already compiled 184 yards rushing (2 TDs) and 276 yards passing with 4 TD tosses but now he is back and healthy for the upcoming 2023 gridiron season
Talk about returning a trio of rushing and passing yards this Fall, the Ord Chanticleers have struck it rich in Hurlburt, McCain and Trent Hinrichs! Now, all they need is some O-Linemen to go with potential All-Stater Jed Boettcher.
…..Coming up - We highlight the top 8-Man running backs in Nebraska.