No. 1 Norfolk Catholic (11-1) vs. No. 2 Centennial (12-0), 10:15 a.m., Tuesday.
ROAD TO LINCOLN
Norfolk Catholic: First round—beat Archbishop Bergan 77-32; quarterfinals—beat No. 8 St. Paul 56-12; semifinals—beat No. 6 Sutton 50-28
Centennial: First round—beat North Platte St. Pat's 28-0; quarterfinals—beat No. 4 BRLD 33-28; semifinals—beat No. 3 Oakland-Craig 35-14
With 2,612 yards this fall and four 1,000-yard seasons on his ledger, Norfolk Catholic all-state running back Dylan Kautz is 24 yards away from being the all-time career rushing leader in Nebraska 11-man high school history with 7,455 yards. He's scored a C-2 state record 45 touchdowns this season. Centennial senior all-state quarterback Wyatt Ehlers has passed for 6,201 yards and 72 TDs in leading the Broncos to a 33-2 record over the past three seasons. Bronco all-state wide receiver Jackson Hirschfeld has 199 catches for 2,730 yards and 30 TDs in his four years.
Not only is Kautz the fastest high school athlete in Nebraska, a three-time state champion in the 100-meter dash, he runs behind an offensive line featuring Nebraska recruit and first-team Super-Stater Ethan Piper and fellow all-stater Joe Teten. "We've got to get ready for a battle on a level like we've never seen," Centennial coach Evan Klanecky said.
Centennial and Norfolk Catholic have endured difficult schedules to reach this point. Centennial owns wins over No. 3 Oakland-Craig, No. 4 BRLD, No. 5 Aquinas, No. 6 Sutton and No. 10 Shelby-Rising City. Norfolk Catholic's lone loss is to C-1 No. 1 Pierce in the season-opener. The Knights have beaten BRLD, Aquinas and Sutton and have two wins over No. 8 St. Paul.
Previous state final appearances: 16 (State titles: C-1/1983, C-1/1991, C-1/1999, C-1/2004, C-1/2005, C-1/2010, C-1/2011, C-1/2012, C-1/2017. State runner-up: C-1/1984, C-2/1987, C-1/1993, C-2/1996, C-1/2009, C-1/2015).
Head coach: Jeff Bellar.
Three to watch
Dylan Kautz: 2,612 yards rushing, 45 TDs.
Ethan Piper: 113 tackles, 14 quarterback sacks, two blocked kicks, one fumble recovery.
Joe Teten: 114 tackles, six quarterback sacks, one pass interception.
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Points per game: 47.5
Points allowed: 19.7
Yards per game: 457.7
Yards allowed: 256.6
Head coach: Evan Klanecky.
Previous state final appearances: Two (State runner-up: C/1976, C-2/2017)
Three to watch
Wyatt Ehlers: 162 of 253 passing for 2,260 yards, 30 TDs; 777 yards rushing, 8 TDs.
Jackson Hirschfeld: 86 receptions for 1,185 yards, 14 TDs; 61 tackles, three pass interceptions, one fumble recovery.
Caleb Cast: 97 tackles, nine quarterback sacks, one blocked kick, one fumble recovery.
Points per game: 36.0
Points allowed: 12.7
Yards per game: 380.8
Yards allowed: 230.8
— Ron Powell