Skip to main content

SBLive Nebraska high school football Power 25 how they fared

The playoffs are underway across the Cornhusker state

By Nathan Charles 

There were few upsets in the round of 16 across Nebraska football classifications Friday night, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t some intriguing results. 

Millard South showed just how dangerous it can be in a win at Kearney. Lincoln Southeast pushed No. 2 Gretna to the brink but saw the offense dry up after halftime. Northwest, a 4-5 team that had lost four of those five by a combined 17 points, went on the road and took down Class B No. 4 seed Elkhorn. 

No. 1 Elkhorn South won 48-20 vs. No. 21. Lincoln Southeast

The Storm brewed up a rushing attack the Spartans simply couldn’t withstand. Senior running back Cole Ballard scored five or more touchdowns for the third game this season while quarterback Carson Rauner rushed for 246 yards on 17 carries. Ballard had scores of 22, 41, 5, 2 and 84 yards while Rauner opened the scoring with a 66-yard run on the second play of scrimmage. Elkhorn South had the first 27 points on the board before East finally answered in the second quarter. Elkhorn South improved to 10-0 and will host No. 6 Creighton Prep in the Class A quarterfinals.

No. 2 Gretna won 27-24 vs. No. 21 Lincoln Southeast

Gretna was challenged by the Southeast offense throughout most of the first half before the defensive line began to dictate play late in the second quarter and after halftime. An offensive showcase in the first half saw Southeast quarterback Owen Baxter find the end zone on a 19-yard run, 18-yard run and a 33-yard pass to Henry Woods. Gretna put together one scoring touchdown after a 71-yard kickoff return from Tyson Boganowski, forced two fumbles, scored after the second, and ended another drive with a trick play touchdown pass from Boganowski to Blayke Moore. Gretna QB Zane Flores led a 10-play 67-yard drive in the final three minutes of the first half for a Cameron Bothwell 30-yard field goal and a 24-21 lead. Southeast drove for a field goal to start the third quarter but Gretna immediately answered with one of its own. The defensive line stopped one Southeast drive late in the first half with three straight sacks then had five more sacks after halftime. Gretna is 10-0 and gets a rematch with No. 5 Bellevue West in the second round.

No. 3 Westside won 59-21 vs. No. 23 Papillion-La Vista

Quarterback Anthony Rezac accounted for four touchdowns and Westside began the playoffs with a win for the fifth year in a row. Rezac passed for two scores, ran for two more and led an offense that racked up 323 yards. Rezac carried it 13 times for 96 yards and was 18 of 26 passing for 232. He led the offense to a 21-0 lead at halftime with touchdown runs of 20 and 40 and engineered another drive that ended with a Jahmez Ross 6-yard run. Papio broke the shutout on a 72-yard touchdown run in the third quarter but Westside put it away with the next 17 points on Rezac’s first passing touchdown, a Curt Cubrich 18-yard run and a Tristan Alvano field goal. Westside is 9-1 and moves on to a quarterfinal matchup against Lincoln Southwest.

No. 4 Bennington won 50-7 vs. Beatrice

The offense was four yards away from 500 on a night quarterback Trey Bird and running back Nick Colvert continued to set the tone. Colvert carried it 17 times for 165 yards and a touchdown while Bird was 12 of 22 passing for exactly 200 yards and four scores. Isaac Conner caught three of those touchdown passes and had 130 yards receiving on seven catches. Defensively, Ben Gilliland put together 10 tackles, two for loss and a sack. The defense had a pick-six. Bennington scored the first 41 points and improved to 10-0 with 7-3 Elkhorn North up next in the second round of the Class B playoffs.

No. 5 Bellevue West won 42-20 vs. No. 19 Papillion-La Vista South

Danny Kaelin was too much again for the Titan defense. The Bellevue West quarterback burned Papio South for five touchdowns in a Week 9 42-20 win. He did that again in Friday’s first round of the Class A playoffs, but this time added a rushing touchdown during an identical 42-20 victory. Kaelin hit Dae’Vonn Hall for a 36-yard touchdown pass on the second play from scrimmage, and the T-Birds were off and running. Papio South answered Bell West’s first two touchdowns, cut the lead in half after the Thunderbirds scored the next two, but then gave up two more scoring drives in the fourth quarter and couldn’t answer. Bellevue West is 7-3 and has a rematch with Gretna in the second round. The Dragons came back from down 37-14 in the fourth quarter for a 40-37 win.

No. 6 Creighton Prep won 27-0 at No. 9 North Platte

The Prep defense intercepted a pass in the first half and forced three fumbles on the North Platte’s final three drives of the game while quarterback Ezra Vedral and running back Marty Brown paced the offense. Vedral scored twice and had 55 yards rushing while Brown found the end zone once and had 112 yards rushing. Prep put together a 10-0 first-half lead then started the third quarter lasted over eight minutes and ended with Vedral finding the end zone with his feet. A North Platte fumble on the next drive led to a Prep scoring drive and essentially ended the game. Prep is 7-3 and heads to Elkhorn South for the Class A quarterfinals.

No. 7 Grand Island won 35-28 vs. No. 15 Omaha North

A Week 8 rematch saw North build a 28-21 lead on a fumble recovery scoop and score early in the fourth before Grand Island responded with back-to-back scoring drives, the last ending on a Colton Marsh 14-yard run with 1:08 to play. The Vikings were driving in the final minute until the Islanders forced a fumble at their own 12, ran it back to midfield and slid down as time expired. GI scored the first two touchdowns, North had the next three and four of the next five but gave it up on a fumble at its own 20 that set up the game-tying score. The Islander D forced a punt then quarterback Cohen Evans converted a third down with a 29-yard pass that set up the game-winning score. Grand Island is 8-2 and will host No. 11 Millard South next week.

No. 8 Kearney lost 35-21 vs. No. 11 Millard South

The Bearcats mounted a spirited comeback in one of the most entertaining games of Friday but didn’t have quite enough to fight back from down 29-7. Kearney scored the first points of the night but then fell behind 8-7 and allowed three touchdowns in barely a minute on a Millard South scoring drive then pick-sixes on back-to-back Kearney possessions. A fumble recovery inside the Patriot 10 and a blocked punt for a touchdown had the Bearcats within 29-21. Kearney recovered another fumble but was forced to punt and gave up an extended scoring drive. A third-down sack by the Millard South defense forced a punt and gave it back to the Patriots who ran off the rest of the game on offense. Kearney closes with a 7-3 record.

No. 9 North Platte lost 27-0 vs. Creighton Prep

Four turnovers by the Bulldogs and a 17-0 deficit late in the third quarter were too much for North Platte. A three-and-out then a turnover on downs led to Prep’s first 10 points. The Junior Jays then opened the third quarter with a touchdown drive that took over eight minutes. The last three North Platte possessions ended with three fumbles. North Platte running back Kolten Tilford rushed for 103 yards, but top lead back Brock Roblee was limited to just 29. North Platte closes the 2022 campaign 6-4.

No. 10 Aurora won 43-13 vs. Scotus Central Catholic

Aurora was without star running back Carlos Collazo for the second straight week, but Collazo’s talent is the only reason he’s scored 29 touchdowns and rushed for more than 1,700 yards. The offensive line opened holes and provided more than enough protection for quarterback Drew Knust to produce over 300 yards of offense and three touchdowns. Knust rushed for 124 yards on 13 carries with two scores and was 17 of 28 passing for 195 yards and a touchdown. Aurora scored on two fourth-and-goals, forced a safety and didn’t allow any points until the fourth quarter and already leading 36-0. Aurora is 10-0 and will host Lincoln Christian in the quarterfinals of the Class C-1 playoffs.

No. 11 Millard South won 35-21 at No. 8 Kearney

Quarterback Cam Kozeal was good again, but it was the teammate who replaced him under center for a few weeks who left his mark on a road trip win out west. Brock Murtaugh nearly led the Patriots to a win over Elkhorn South on Sept. 2 while Kozeal was with USA Baseball. But while he couldn’t get the job done that night, he did Friday with six catches for 101 yards and two scores. Murtaugh caught a touchdown pass and went 54 yards for a score and jumped a route for a pick-six during a 21-point barrage that took barely a minute in the second quarter and extended the Millard South lead to 29-7. Kearney fought back with a fumble recovery inside the red zone and blocked a punt for a touchdown but Millard South answered with a scoring drive. The Patriots are 6-4 and head to Grand Island for the second round.

No. 12 Millard West lost 31-17 at No. 14 Lincoln Southwest

Millard West’s 27-23 win over Southwest two weeks ago gave the Wildcats the district title and earned them a playoff spot following a 1-3 start to the season. A 69-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-7 with just over a minute left is undoubtedly the highlight of the year – that and 184 yards and three touchdowns for wide receiver Jackson Williams. This time, Millard West was limited to just 45 yards, and Williams didn’t have a single catch. Southwest went up 31-10 in the fourth quarter and relied on star running back Cal Newell for 36 carries, 214 yards, two touchdowns and the majority of the work in the fourth quarter that put the game away. Millard West ends the year at 5-5.

No. 13 Scottsbluff won 54-14 vs. Plattsmouth

The Bearcats rolled to 40 first-half points and overwhelmed the Blue Devils early in all three phases of the game. Quarterback Braeden Stull scored from 5 yards out about halfway into the first quarter, the kickoff team recovered a fumble moments later and set up another touchdown then the defense forced a fumble and sparked another touchdown drive. Stull found the end zone again early in the second and made it a 28-0 lead and 28 points in just about eight minutes. Scottsbluff totaled more than r40 yards of offense and had 146 and three touchdowns by running back Sebastien Boyle. The Bearcats are 9-1 and host Skutt next week in the Class B quarterfinals.

No. 14 Lincoln Southwest won 31-17 vs. No. 12 Millard West

For all intents and purposes, Southwest had Millard West beat two weeks ago until the Wildcats converted a fourth-and-7 with 1:13 remaining in the game. That was a 69-yard touchdown pass that stunned the Silver Hawks for their second loss of the season. There would be no last-minute dramatics this time thanks to two touchdowns five minutes apart in the fourth quarter that put Southwest up 31-10. Quarterback Collin Fritton threw for 129 yards and two touchdowns and used his legs to pick up 85 yards on the ground. Running back Cal Newell had 268 yards the first time around and put up 217 this time with those two crucial fourth-quarter scores. Southwest picked up its first postseason win, not counting the 2020 COVID season, improved to 8-2 and will face top-seeded Westside next week.

No. 15 Omaha North lost 35-28 at No. 7 Grand Island

The 2022 season will probably always leave a sour taste in the mouths of the Vikings. Following a surprise run to the Class A semifinals last year following an upset of No. 1 Millard South, Omaha North was one of the favorites to compete for the title this fall. But the Vikings started the year with a tough two-point loss to Bellevue West because of a special teams mistake then lost the last two games on the regular season schedule. In between, North beat one team with a winning record. Friday’s loss at Grand Island saw the hosts score the first 14 points, North post the next 21 and build leads of 21-14 and 28-21. But a fumble turned into a defensive touchdown for the tie then Grand Island put together a long possession that produced the game-winning score with just 1:08 left on the scoreboard. North finishes 6-4.

No. 16 Pierce won 49-8 vs. Central City

The common wisdom for postseason success came into play for Pierce: a team’s best players have to be at their best. Quarterback Abe Scholting was an efficient 11 of 12 passing for 174 yards and four touchdowns, running back Keenan Valverde 16 times for 161 yards and three scores and tight end Ben Brahmer grabbed five receptions for 110 and two touchdowns. Defensively, the Bluejays also had eight tackles for loss, five sacks and three interceptions. Pierce scored the first 20 points and led 34-8 at halftime. The Bluejays are 10-0 and get a 2021 Class C-1 title rematch with Lakeview next week in the quarterfinals.

No. 17 Omaha Gross won 42-0 vs. Mount Michael

Gross forced three first-half turnovers and quarterback Colby Duncan found receiver Jackson Drake twice for touchdowns. The Cougars built an insurmountable 28-0 halftime lead and remained unbeaten at 10-0. Gross will host York in the second round of Class B playoffs.

No. 18 Elkhorn lost 24-21 to Grand Island Northwest

A scoreless game at halftime came down to a field goal by Northwest’s Peyton Atwood in the final minute that gave the kicker some redemption after missing from the same distance in a 24-21 loss the previous week at York. Northwest never trailed but also never led by a comfortable margin. The two sides traded scores after the first 24 minutes went without any points. Elkhorn tied it 14-14 in the fourth quarter but then failed on a fourth-and-1 at its own 24 that looked like it was the backbreaker. Northwest scored but gave up the tying touchdown on a 65-yard drive in just 39 seconds. That left 55 seconds on the clock and enough time for the Vikings to drive and set up Atwood. Elkhorn ends the season at 7-3. Northwest is 5-5 and will head to Waverly for the Class B quarterfinals.

No. 19 Papillion-La Vista South lost 42-20 vs. No. 5 Bellevue West

The Titans tried to change the momentum from a week ago and hung around longer, but still couldn’t find a way to slow down Bellevue West quarterback Danny Kaelin. The leading passer in Class A tossed five touchdowns on Papio South in Week 9 then did it again in the first round of the playoffs while also scoring a rushing touchdown. Kaelin was 19 of 29 for 265 yards and found four different receivers for touchdowns. Papio South answered a 14-0 lead and tied it in the second quarter, cut a 28-14 lead in half but allowed the next two scores and couldn’t find any points in the fourth quarter. Papio South ends the year 6-4 and is still looking for its first playoff win since 2017.

No. 20 Lincoln East lost 48-20 at No. 1 Elkhorn South

The Spartans' first concern was the loss of quarterback Jeter Worthley. The sophomore reportedly suffered a shoulder injury against Gretna last week and was unable to go. Backup Owen Laessig proved to be a cable fill-in with 233 passing yards on 24 of 39 throwing with two passing touchdowns. But Laessig was the only option in a one-sided offense. The running game never got going and finished with negative-42 yards on 11 carries. The Spartans finish 5-5.

No. 21 Southeast lost 24-21 at Gretna

Quarterback Owen Baxter had arguably the game of his life considering the circumstances but turnovers and offensive line play ruined hopes for an upset. Baxter had two touchdown runs and a touchdown pass in the first half but suffered three straight sacks on one second-quarter drive and was sacked five more times in the second half. A Baxter interception and two fumbles by running back Max Buettenback ended three other drives. Southeast led 7-0, fell behind 14-7 after the second fumble, took a 21-14 lead, allowed the next 10 points, tied it with a field goal drive to start the second half but was shut out the rest of the way. Gretna answered the third-quarter field goal with one of its own then stopped a Southeast fourth-quarter drive with an interception in the end zone. Southeast closes 2022 at 5-5.

No. 23 Papillion-La Vista lost 59-20 at No. 3 Omaha Westside

Papio fell behind 21-0 and simply doesn’t have the kind of weapons to overcome that kind of a hole. The Monarchs cut into the deficit with a touchdown early in the third quarter, but the Warriors scored the next 17 in a row. Few teams have been able to contain Westside quarterback Anthony Rezac, and Papio was no better. Rezac threw for two touchdowns, ran for two more and the defense also scored points on a fourth-quarter pick-six. Papio ends its season at 4-6.

No. 24 Millard North (4-5) did not make the postseason

No. 25 Omaha Skutt won 21-7 vs. Blair

Skutt fell behind on a 32-yard fourth-down pass on the first play of the game but didn’t allow any more points the rest of the way. The Skyhawk defense held the Bears to a missed field goal after a turnover inside the Skutt 10 and took a 14-7 lead into halftime. Skutt touchdowns included a 13-yard Anthony Heithoff run in the first quarter, Collin Pike 63-yard run in the second and a Wyatt Archer touchdown catch from quarterback Barrett Turman in the third. Skutt forced two turnovers and came up with several sacks, including three on the game's final possession.