Lincoln Lutheran (1-1) at Adams Central (2-0)
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
Site: Patriot Field
Radio: KHAS 1230
Last year: Adams Central defeated Lincoln Lutheran 40-29. AC advanced to the quarterfinals of the C-1 playoffs before being eliminated and finishing with a record of 8-3. Lincoln went 7-3 after losing in the first round of the playoffs.
Last week: The Patriots cruised to a 42-14 victory over Milford, while the Warriors suffered a 40-6 loss to Bishop Neumann.
Players to watch: The Lincoln Lutheran defensive line vs. Adams Central’s offensive line.
Matchup: The Patriots took care of business last week with a 28-point win over Milford. AC head coach Shawn Mulligan said the focus was to not get complacent, and the squad made it clear that it has bigger goals than just avenging last year’s loss to defending champion Aurora.
The Patriots’ 42-14 win over Milford even came without two-time 1,000-yard rusher Gabe Conant, who missed the game due to illness. But backup running back Macrae Huyser carried the load, rushing for 159 yards and a pair of touchdowns. AC also totaled 170 yards and four scores through the air. Depth and versatlity make the Adams Central offense a nightmare for opponents every week.
While the offense is living up to expectations, the Patriot defense has surpassed them. Adams Central has given up just three scores in two games this season, with one of last week’s TDs coming when the game was already well in hand. Slade Smith leads the unit with 22 total tackles. AC has totaled 11 tackles for loss this season.
Mulligan said the Warriors show a lot of “eye candy” to manipulate their opponents’ line of vision. Staying assignment sound will be crucial for the Patriots. On defense, Mulligan said Lincoln will give AC unique looks in the secondary and on the defensive line. He said the Warriors like to slant the line and cause havoc when trying to get in the backfield.
Coachspeak with AC head coach Shawn Mulligan: “We talked about complacency, which was our Monday morning character talk, and about not being happy with where you’re at. You’re always trying to improve and strive... We’re moving in the right direction.”
Hastings (2-0) at Alliance (0-2)
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
Last year: The Tigers earned their first win of the season, beating the Bulldogs 39-7.
HHS wound up in the first round of the Class B playoffs, where they fell and ended the season with a 4-6 record. The Bulldogs went 4-5 on the year.
Last week: Hastings lost a top 10 battle with Scottsbluff 47-12, while Alliance dropped to 0-2 with a 32-13 loss to Chadron.
Players to watch: HHS running back Zaide Weidner and the Alliance defense.
Matchup: In week one, the Tigers upset No. 3 McCook in dominating fashion. Last week, they suffered a 35-point loss to No. 2 Scottsbluff.
Even with the lopsided score, HHS head coach Charlie Shoemaker felt his team was on the cusp of competing with the powerful Bearcats. One deflected pass here or one made block there could have changed the way the game played out.
The Hastings offense had moments where it showed off its talent at the skill positions. Both of the Tigers’ scores were 80-yard plays, a quick pass to Austin Nauert and a run from Carson Shoemaker. But what really stifled HHS was the constant pressure in the backfield from the Bearcats. Scottsbluff boasted a ton of size and strength, but the outmatched Hastings offensive line was still disappointed in its perfromance. Shoemaker said the line expected more from itself and is determined to improve and play at a higher level.
In similar fashion, the Tigers’ defense is anxious to get back on the field and prove it’s a better unit than what the numbers showed from the Scottsbluff loss.
As for Alliance, the Bulldogs have struggled to score this year, putting up just 22 points in two games. Alliance is going to need to remedy that problem since its defense will likely have its hands full trying to keep up with the Tiger offense.
Coachspeak with HHS head coach Charlie Shoemaker: “I think they want to get back out there. Coming out and starting well will be real important when we go out there. I just told them, ‘We’re taking a business trip out there. Let’s make sure we take care of business and do what we need to do.’ ”
St. Cecilia (2-0) at Gibbon (0-2)
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
Radio: KICS 1550
Last year: St. Cecilia cruised to a 50-7 rout against Gibbon last season. STC advanced to the first round of the Class C-2 playoffs, where it was eliminated after a 6-4 record. Gibbon was winless last year at 0-9.
Last week: The Bluehawks improved to 2-0 with a 42-7 win over Freeman, while Gibbon fell to Hershey 28-16.
Players to watch: St. Cecilia receiver Jacob Brouillette and Gibbon running back Sean Hampton.
Matchup: It’s been a great start to the coaching career for St. Cecilia’s Cody Jackson. The STC head coach is 2-0 and his team is outscoring its opponent 70-21. In last week’s 42-7 win over Freeman, the Falcons’ only points of the game came in the first quarter, as the Bluehawks held the Falcons to 56 yards of total offense, including a minus 36 yards rushing. Meanwhile, the STC offense piled up 316 yards on the ground.
Micah Heil has led the Bluehawk rushing attack, totaling 269 yards and four touchdowns, with 205 and all four scores coming in the game against Freeman. Jackson said establishing the run game has been the priority early in the season. He said developing an efficient passing game takes more time, and he believes the Bluehawks’ air attack is progressing nicely and will be a nice compliment to the ground attack.
Defensively, St. Cecilia has made its mark by winning the battle in the box. The Bluehawks have also forced eight takeaways through two games.
Making the trip to Gibbon Friday, it’ll be the Buffaloes ground game that will attract the Bluehawks’ attention. Gibbon running back Sean Hampton leads the team in rushing after going for 130 yards last week in the loss to Hershey. Jackson said the Buffaloes’ backs are big and powerful, but the STC defense is hoping to slow them down and force Gibbon to rely on the passing game.
Coachspeak with STC head coach Cody Jackson on getting first home win last week: “That was awesome. I had some family in town, and everybody in my family has gone through St. Cecilia. To play our first home game, which was also our homecoming game, and to see familiar faces in the crowd was pretty awesome. It was great to give them the game that the alumni that came back deserved... It meant a lot to me to bring back a little of the tradition we had at St. Cecilia. But I told the kids, we still haven’t done a whole lot. We still have to keep the train rolling and stay strong throughout the year.”