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Lincoln Southeast at Omaha Burke, 11/2/18

Lincoln Southeast's Isaac Appleget (10) celebrates after the team recovered an Omaha Burke fumble on the opening kickoff in a Class A state quarterfinal game on Nov. 2, 2018, in Omaha. Appleget is one of eight starters returning on the Knights' defense.

Class A

School (’18 record) | OS | DS | Key player

1. Bellevue West (10-2) | 7 | 7 | WR Zavier Betts

2. Millard South (9-2) | 9 | 8 | OL/DL Kohl Herbolsheimer

3. Omaha Westside (9-2) | 7 | 6 | RB/CB Avante Dickerson

4. Omaha Burke (13-0) | 6 | 4 | WR/S Xavier Watts

5. Millard West (9-3) | 5 | 3 | WR Dalys Beanum

6. Omaha North (6-4) | 4 | 5 | WR/DB Marques Sigle

7. Lincoln Southeast (7-4) | 6 | 8 | RB/S Isaac Gifford

8. Elkhorn South (7-4) | 5 | 5 | OT Teddy Prochazka

9. Grand Island (10-3) | 4 | 5 | WR/DB Broc Douglass

10. Kearney (5-5) | 4 | 4 | RB/DB Miko Maessner

OS: returning offensive starters; DS: returning defensive starters.

Contenders: Creighton Prep, Millard North, Lincoln Southwest, Lincoln Pius X, Lincoln East, Papillion-La Vista South, Elkhorn, Gretna, Omaha Central.

Case for No. 1: Bellevue West has both star power and depth. A pair of first-team Super-Staters — Nebraska wide receiver recruit Zavier Betts and Northern Illinois running back recruit Jay Ducker — headline seven returning starters on both offense and defense. Senior wide receiver Nate Sullivan (South Dakota State recruit) is out until midseason with a broken ankle, but he’ll give the offense a boost down the stretch. Offensive tackle Thomas Ault (6-4, 260) is a returning Class A all-stater and second-team Super-Stater.

Millard South also a strong contender: Seventeen starters (nine on offense, eight on defense) return from a Patriot team that held double-figure leads in the fourth quarter of both games they lost (Millard West and Grand Island). First-team Super-State senior Kohl Herbolsheimer is one of the top returning linemen in the state. Junior quarterback T.J. Urban accounted for more than 2,000 yards in total offense last season. Second-team Super-Stater Isaiah Harris rushed for more than 1,500 yards as a junior and all-state defensive back Chase Perchal (North Dakota recruit) utilizes his speed in every phase of the game.

Southeast has tons of potential: The Knights already had a solid group returning with 14 starters back and three Division I players in running back/safety Isaac Gifford (Oregon State, Wyoming offers), wide receiver Isaac Appleget (South Dakota State recruit) and lineman Xavier Trevino (Nebraska walk-on). Add four transfers who are potential stars and Southeast becomes a state title contender. Three of its first five games are against No. 3 Omaha Westside, No. 4 Omaha Burke and No. 6 Omaha North, so there is plenty of opportunities for advancement.

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Top 10 opening weekend (Friday games unless noted): Omaha Burke at Lincoln Southeast (Thursday), Bellevue West at Lincoln High, Omaha North at Creighton Prep, Elkhorn South at Elkhorn, Grand Island at Kearney, Gretna at Millard South, Millard North at Millard West, Bellevue East at Omaha Westside.

Class B

School (’18 record) | OS | DS | Key player

1. Omaha Skutt (13-0) | 3 | 7 | QB/S Tyson Gordon

2. McCook (9-2) | 3 | 4 | QB/S Cameryn Berry

3. Scottsbluff (12-1) | 7 | 7 | QB/LB Sabastian Harsh

4. Omaha Roncalli (8-3) | 7 | 6 | QB Jack Dotzler

5. Seward (8-3) | 6 | 7 | QB/CB Ben Myers

6. Waverly (9-3) | 3 | 3 | OL/DL Trevor Brown

7. Norris (5-5) | 9 | 9 | RB/LB Ashton Hausmann

8. York (9-3) | 3 | 5 | RB/LB Jacob Diaz

9. Mt. Michael (6-4) | 7 | 8 | RB/LB Jackson Ramold

10. Blair (7-4) | 5 | 6 | RB/LB Dex Larsen

Contenders: Hastings, Bennington, Crete, Northwest, Beatrice.

Case for No. 1: Omaha Skutt brings back some significant pieces from its 13-0 state title team from a year ago, enough to make the SkyHawks the favorite to repeat this fall. Two first-team Super-State seniors are back in the fold: multi-dimensional Tyson Gordon and lineman Blake Anderson. Gordon, a North Dakota State recruit, can play quarterback, wide receiver and safety and affect the game returning kicks. Anderson, who committed earlier this summer to Northern Iowa, can dominate a game on both sides of the ball.

Western teams contenders again: Look for both McCook and last year’s state runner-up, Scottsbluff, to be factors in November. McCook quarterback/safety Cameryn Berry is a three-year starter and an impact player on both sides of the ball. Sterling Wright, a transfer running back from Shelton, is expected to contribute immediately. Scottsbluff’s Sabastian Harsh might be the best combination quarterback/linebacker in the state, while the duo of Jasiya DeOllos and Jacob Krul will go a long ways to filling the void left by graduated all-state running back Chris Busby.

Top 10 opening weekend (Friday games): Alliance at York, Beatrice at Norris, Bennington at Omaha Skutt, Blair at Plattsmouth, Omaha Gross at Omaha Roncalli, Hastings at McCook, Mount Michael at Ralston, North Platte at Scottsbluff, Seward at Waverly.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7437 or rpowell@journalstar.com. On Twitter @ronpowell_ljs.

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Sports reporter

Ron Powell is a longtime prep writer for the Journal Star. He covers high school football, boys basketball and track as well as state college football and Husker and professional tennis.

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