Henderson Heartland's Austin Stuhr, who set an all-class single season rushing record of 3,185 yards in 2016.
Here is the second installment of Eight man runners that make the list. Honestly, there were just too many deserving athletes to publish one list. The backs on this list are just as deserving as the ones in the previous article.
I will once again run the list of 5000 Yard Career Rushers from the 8-Man ranks. Since they are obviously some of the best that ever played at RB, I did not repeat them on the lists below.
Case in point is Cory Eikmeier of Dodge or Clint Belina from Howells etc. These lads need no explanation. Their numbers speak for themselves. The list below is just additions that I think deserve high consideration when speaking of the best ever.
*Eight Man Football Career 5000 Yard Rushers*:
Clint Belina-Howells………….……….6,626..(2006-2008) (2 years/11-Man)
JJ Oltmer-Humphrey St. Francis…….5,740..(2011-2014)
Brendan Holtorf-Prague…...……….…5,348..(1998-2001) (2 years 6-Man)
Jay Theis-Friend……………………….5,185..(1994-1997) (1 year of 11-Man)
Alex Horky-Twin Loup………………….5,073..(2014-2017)
Austin Stuhr-Henderson Heartland…...5,063..(2013-2016)
Jim Gilbert-Table Rock…………………5,046..(1982-1985)
*List II of Best 8-Man Running Backs of all time in Nebraska*:
*Austin Stuhr-Heartland (Henderson) - Nothing will ever top Austin Stuhr’s 2016 run to the Single Season Rushing Record . A breathtaking surge by an exceptional football player who had a offensive line that could have played the 11-Man game week and week out. The Houdini like running style of the once-in-a-century 8-Man running back left many defenders grabbing a hand full of thin air in 2016.
Austin’s runs reminded me of smoke slithering through a keyhole. So fluid with power to go with it. The amazing Heartland Huskie ran for 3,185 yards in 2016 and 5,016 yards in his career. The amazing fact about that is Stuhr rushed for over a 1000 yards just twice in his high school years.
Here’s another statistic that makes Austin Stuhr so special. It took him only 39 games to reach his 5,016 yards. Hold on…..even more shocking is the fact 4,696 of those yards came during a 20 game span his junior and senior seasons.
Just almost miraculous the way the entire thing unfolded and Heartland did not even make it to Lincoln for the title game in 2016.
And bloodlines? None that I know of. Austin Stuhr was an only child. Talk about God given talent.
*Casey Hughes-North Loup-Scotia - You know what? If Phil Ruskamp, Brian Pieper and JJ Decker of Dodge had not gang tackled Hughes on that 2 point conversion in the ‘97 D-1 title game in Lincoln, I think Casey converts and sends the 28-28 game into OT and NL-Scotia may have won it. Hughes carried the ball 46 times for 241 yards that game. And that double extra point attempt just defined Casey’s career, because it usually took three defenders to bring Hughes down as he churned his way to 2,227 yards and a school rushing record that will stand forever. Hughe was also was chosen as a All-State defensive lineman in ‘96. Best NL-Scotia RB ever?
*Tyler Paulsen-Dodge - Dude was on the 5000 yard career rusher list in my previous article, but needs special extra mention because was asked to step into the shoes of the great Cory Eikmeier the very next season after the record setter graduated. And boy did Tyler ever respond with his 1,567 yards and the dude didn’t even play in that title game against North Loup-Scotia in 1997.
Paulsen ended up gaining 5,617 yards in his three year career for the Pirates. Between Tyler and Corey Eikmeier, the pair combined for a staggering 14,947 rushing yards. Can you say superior O-Line?
*Kurt Bohaboj, Alan Bohaboj, Trent Mastny, Brad Vering-Howells - Both the Bohaboj (Bo-ha-boy) boys were 2000 yard rushers and Alan played on Mike Spiers first state championship team back in the year 2000. One, or both of the Bohaboj guys used to train by chasing jackrabbits up by Howells (Kurt maybe?). Mike would know that one.
The hard running Mastny fashioned back to back 1000 yard plus seasons, going off for 2,097 yards in 2010 when the Bobcats throttled Sargent for the D-1 title, then gained 1,329 the next year when his team dropped that 21-18 game to that same Sargent squad in the championship matchup.
And Brad Vering? He fashioned back to back 1000 yard rushing seasons in 1994/95 back before Howells was a football powerhouse. But that must not have been Mr. Vering’s best sport. The Howells product went on to enjoy a phenomenal wrestling career at Nebraska, so special that he eventually competed in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics as Greco-Roman wrestler. Top that one.
*Taylor Dixon-Wauneta-Palisade - You know what? Taylor Dixon as one heck of a football player for Wa-Pa from 2004 to 2007, compiling three consecutive 1000 yard rushing seasons (1,577, 1,101 and 1,046 yards respectively). The slick running Dixon helped lead his team to 4 consecutive Class D1 playoff appearances, making it all the way to the semis his junior year (2006) when they ran into a powerful Glen Snodgrass coached Overton team and suffered a 43-14 loss.
Taylor Dixon must have been a pretty salty football player because the guy was good enough to play for the Huskers. Mr. Dixon is also a mighty fine football official these days I’ll have you know.
*Josh Cobb-Wallace - Big ole Josh would get the wheels cranked up and steamroll defenders like he was lawn bowling. Had to hit him low to have a shot at bringing the big guy to the ground. Ran for over 3,000 yards his last two years at Wallace and later played some ball for the Huskers.
*Alex Dose-Hampton - Three time thousand year gainer that reminded me of one of those inflatable clowns with the sand on the bottom that prevents them from tipping over. Dose had spectacular balance and such a low center of gravity. Yes, he was on the 5000 yard list, but I had to give some props because he made many people forget about the great Brian Hahn at Hampton.
*Tom Mimick, Doug Wendell, Dave Wendell-Spencer-Naper - Mimick was in last yea’s 8-Man Hall of Fame Class and for good reason. As good on defense as he was on offense. Doug and Dave Wendell accounted for over 3,200 rushing yards for Spencer-Naper in 1992 but they ran into Sterling, who had Micah Uher and Luke Bold in the D-1 semis that year.
Those are three top notch 8-Man running backs, friends.
*Mike Reiman, Wes Fernau-Butte - Don’t know if our friend Steve Colfack will agree or not, but Wes Fernau knocked me out when I saw him play and Reiman really caught my attention when Butte beat Polk-Hordville and Dale Van Housen 56-40 back in 1989. Good lord Reiman was good. Wes was a two time All-Stater, Reiman a 3 time 1000 yard rusher. Take your pick on who was the better player. I like them both a ton.
*Kelly Haecker-Odell - Led the Tigers to that 66-22 smashing of Hordville in 1982 and literally tore up 8-Man football that season with his state leading 1,971 yards. Kelly had sweeter moves on the field than Rihanna does on stage now 38 years later. Little bro Kolin was also a two time 1000 yard runner half dozen later for the orange and black.
JJ Oltmer, Duane Kosch-Humphrey St. Francis - Two of the toughest St. Frans dudes ever. Kosch exploded for 1,809 yards in 1995, leading the Flyers to a D-2 State Championship. Oltmer, on the 5000 yard list, is more of a current name, playing in the D-2 state final his sophomore season. JJ was simply unstoppable 90% of the time. Big, tall and powerful, Oltmer delivered countless Exedrin headaches to opponents.
*Donnie Peetz-North Loup-Scotia - Tore things up for NL-Scotia 13 seasons before Casey Hughes came on the scene. Sweet moves, very fast and did not have the line blocking like Hughes enjoyed, but still managed to scoot for 2,654 yards the last 2 seasons of his career.
*Ron Zach, Kenny Zach-Humphrey High - Both Zach boys were two time thousand yard rushers back in Humphrey Pub’s glory days in the early and mid 80’s. Way above average football players in a town that has a legendary football program housed right across the street from their building.
*Josh Frerichs-Lodgepole - Frerichs was a man among boys in the far western Nebraska football world. Big guy, fast and extremely football smart. He led Lodgepole to their final appearance in the playoffs in 2003, notching wins over Banner County and Wallace before running into Mullen and a junior year Steven Dent. Frerichs scored a record 10 TDs against Minatare his junior season too.
Josh told me during 8-Man All-Star camp it wasn’t any fun running over 125 pound kids and having games end at halftime. Steven Dent told me this dude could play the game. Good enough or me. Frerichs could have flourished in a large 11-Man program in eastern Nebraska and you can quote me on that one.
*David Roseberry-Dunning-Sandhills - They don’t come much better in the Sandhills history books than David Roseberry. Stud for sure. Dressing out at 6-1, 180 pounds, Roseberry bolted for 1,861 yards and helped his team get to the D-1 finals in 1985. Only problem was Sandhills facing a team named Bancroft-Rosalie, who had a Hall of Fame coach named Dr, Jon Cerny, and sophomore running back named Brent Gatzemeyer. The 56-20 loss did nothing to diminish what David Roseberry did that season. Sensational talent.
Hey, don’t forget about Birnie Jensen up there at Sandhills either. Little cat could get flat out get it done and proved it with his 1,619 yards back in 1979.
*Kent Beckman - Elgin - State Rushing Champion in my first ever Bobby Mills 1000 Yard Club in 1975. Ate by himself every school day at a cafe uptown there in Elgin. Drove up and bought him lunch one day, took his picture and had a great talk with the lad. Swear to god, Beckman could backpedal or run sideways faster than most players could run forward. Seemed far above any running back in talent skills in ‘75.
Unfortunately, Beckman and the boys ran into Ken Cook and his Adams squad with twin 1000 yard rushers Tony Boeve and Steve Buss in the 8-Man Finals (one class then) and suffered that 44-20 loss. Kent Beckman was a real stud with a vicious stiff arm that drilled more than one would-be tackler into to Elgin turf.
*John Koinzan, Tim Squire, Troy Gilligan-Anselmo-Merna - Mother of Mercy, you could write an entire series about Anselmo-Merna thousand yard rushers. There were 32 of them ya know.
The 6-1, 175 pound John Koinzan was just plain scary when he ran for 2,243 yards in 1996 for the Coyotes. Coach Tim Hoyt’s Anselmo-Merna forces made it all the way to Memorial Stadium that year, knocking off #1 Mullen in the semifinals to get there. Koinzan was money in that one, rushing for 183 yards, picking off a pair of passes and logging 19 tackles on defense.
In the finals, the Coyotes came up just short, losing to Dodge, which boasted a senior Cory Eikmeier. A/M nearly pulled off the win, falling short by only a 42-34 count, holding the mighty Dodge to just six second half points.
Tim Squire ran for 1,349 yards his 1991 junior season, then followed that with a huge 1,893 yard senior year with his team not even qualifying for the playoffs either year.
And then we have the amazing Troy Gilligan, who may have fashioned the most illustrious career of them all at Anselmo-Merna, all things considered. Back to back to back 1000 yard rushing seasons in 2013-2015, qualifying for the playoffs each year, averaging a gazillion points a game in 2014 and making an appearance in the D-2 finals before losing to Exeter-Milligan.
And all along the way throughout Troy Gilligan’s years, he was asked to do almost superhuman things it seems and came through every single time for the Coyote program. Another story for another time.
*Brandon Holtorf - Prague - Try this on for size. Holtorf played two years of 8-Man football, then two seasons of 6-Man and is the only player in history that had Four 1000 yard rushing and Four 1000 yard passing seasons. Mind-boggling and tough to grasp, but the Panther QB pulled it off playing from 1998-2001. Unfortunately, Prague only made the playoffs a couple times during Holtorf’s career.
I cannot foresee Holthorf’s feat being equalled anytime soon and if so, I’m thinking it would have to be in the 6-Man ranks.
*Monte Birnie-Callaway - Smooth as glass, gliding runner that led his team to a spot in the first ever NSAA football playoffs in 1975. Birnie’s 1,570 yards that year ranked him among the state leaders. Bears lost to a good Lawrence team 41-16 in that 1st round 8-Man playoff game.
*Ross Tomjack-Chambers - Could be a debate about who is the best Chambers back ever, but Ross Tomjack led his troops to the D-2 title game, playing Falls City Sacred Heart right, smack dab in the middle of their six year championship run and 88 game win streak. Ross Tomjack could do everything. All-State football and All-State basketball selection his senior year. Both he and Andy Johansen were 1000 yard runners in 1991 with Tomjack still owning the Chambers single season rushing record of 1,767 big ones.