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Class A football playoffs: The storylines and players to know ahead of Friday’s opening-round action
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Class A football playoffs: The storylines and players to know ahead of Friday’s opening-round action

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Lincoln East vs. Lincoln Southeast, 9.23

Lincoln East's Noah Walters (right) throws the one of his four touchdown passes in the first quarter against Lincoln Southeast on Sept. 23 at Seacrest Field.

The Class A football playoffs begin Friday, and with eight matchups to follow around the state, here’s the key information to know:

Game of the week

No. 10 Lincoln East (6-3) at No. 6 Gretna (8-1), 6 p.m.

The two leading passers in Class A will meet in this exciting first-round clash between Lincoln East’s Noah Walters and Gretna’s Zane Flores. The Spartans fell flat in their toughest game of the regular season, losing 52-7 to No. 4 Creighton Prep in Week 9, but the single-season Class A passing record is within reach for Walters this week. Gretna’s only loss is to No. 5 Elkhorn South, and the Dragons have a well-rounded team with playmakers at wide receiver, linebacker and defensive back. Expect some serious scoring in this matchup.

Other matchups

(Note: Journal Star rankings are used instead of playoff seeds)

Omaha North (4-5) at No. 1 Millard South (9-0), 7 p.m.

No. 8 Columbus (7-2) at No. 9 North Platte (6-3), 7 p.m.

Kearney (4-5) vs. No. 5 Elkhorn South (8-1), 7 p.m., Elkhorn High

Papillion-La Vista (4-5) at No. 2 Bellevue West (8-1), 7 p.m.

Grand Island (6-3) vs. No. 4 Creighton Prep (7-2), 7:30 p.m., Burke Stadium

Lincoln Southeast (5-4) at No. 7 Omaha Burke (7-2), 4 p.m.

Papillion-La Vista South (4-5) at No. 3 Omaha Westside (9-0), 7 p.m.

Players to watch

Gage Stenger, Millard South: One of the state’s best linebackers a season ago, Stenger has transformed Millard South into a title favorite as the team’s starting quarterback. A Nebraska football commit, Stenger has totaled over 1,500 yards of offense and 22 touchdowns in seven games while turning the ball over just once. He also sat out Millard South’s final two regular-season games due to injury.

LJ Richardson, Bellevue West: The Thunderbirds have dynamic game-changers at every offensive position, and Richardson might be the best of the bunch. The Wyoming commit is Class A’s leading rusher this season with 1,537 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns.

Ernest Hausmann, Columbus: As Columbus’ on-field leader, Hausmann almost never misses a play. His 68 tackles are the second-most on the team, and the NU football commit has also totaled 514 receiving yards and eight touchdowns at wide receiver.

Vince Genatone, North Platte: Another dominant two-way player, Genatone leads Class A with 105 tackles this season from his spot at linebacker. A dynamic 6-foot-1 athlete, Genatone has also run for 715 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Jake Appleget, Lincoln Southeast: If the Knights are going to make a strong playoff push, it all starts with their senior leader. A Nebraska football commit, Appleget has scored 10 total touchdowns on offense while lining up across the field, and his 64 tackles place him among the team’s best.

High school football Week 9 is in the books. Here's all of the Journal Star's content, in one spot

Week 9! Our team was out around the city and area to uncover all of the stories that came out of Friday night — here's what we got.

editor's pick top story
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Well, that's a wrap. A wrap for all but 16 teams in Class A, that is.

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The regular season wraps up this week.

editor's pick alert
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The Vikings trailed by as many as 21 points in the second quarter and 14 in the fourth, but it left Norris High School a triple-OT winner.

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No single opponent has been able to stop Lincoln East quarterback Noah Walters this season. Then came Creighton Prep in Week 9.

editor's pick
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Sintek threw for 262 yards and two touchdowns and ran for two more scores.

editor's pick
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Lincoln Lutheran went into a Class C-2 road football game against Wilber-Clatonia on Friday night with two specific goals in mind. 

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Zach Fox brought down the big interception in the fourth quarter, and added a key snag on an onside kick attempt for good measure.

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With Class A No. 5 Elkhorn South banged up at running back, the Storm turned to senior quarterback Will Skradis to carry the offensive burden.

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Rolling in the first round of the playoffs is nothing new for BDS, and it was business as usual even after a few early-season stumbles.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7437 or at LMullin@journalstar.com. On Twitter @lmullin7

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