The past two years, opponents have struggled slowing down the multiple football talents of Omaha Skutt Super-State senior Tyson Gordon.
It appears an injury has failed as well.
Gordon went down with a right shoulder separation in the first half of Skutt’s 35-13 win over Blair in Week 3. While the injury has severely limited the 6-foot-3, 185-pound North Dakota State safety recruit’s defensive contributions the past few weeks, it hasn’t affected him at quarterback at all.
In wins over York (28-7), Plattsmouth (34-0) and Ralston (42-7) the past three games, Gordon has passed for 582 yards and six touchdowns, and rushed for another 361 and six more scores.
That’s helped the Class B defending state champion and top-ranked SkyHawks (6-0) bring a 19-game winning streak into a showdown at No. 3 Waverly (6-0) on Friday night.
“He’s a tough kid, and he played through it the last two weeks,” Skutt coach Matt Turman said of Gordon, a converted wide receiver who has passed for 1,076 yards and 12 TDs this season while rushing for a team-high 661 and 10 TDs. “He has no pain in it anymore, so we’re planning to use him defensively as well this week.”
As a safety last season, Gordon led Class B with eight interceptions to go with 45 tackles. In the first two games combined, Gordon had 14 tackles and an interception against two of the best passing attacks in the state — No. 8 Bennington (49-28) and No. 4 Omaha Roncalli (42-34).
In Gordon’s absence, senior Drew Rase has come off the bench to become a key member of the secondary with 32 tackles through six games.
“Almost any other year, Drew would be starting, so to have that kind of depth is big for us this season,” Turman said.
But it will also be big to have Gordon back at safety to help try to slow down Waverly’s running game that ranks No. 1 in Class B at 375 yards per game, led by senior quarterback and Nebraska walk-on commit Mason Nieman (702 yards) and junior running back Zane Schawang (657 yards).
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“Tyson’s good at filling the alleys and making tackles at the line of scrimmage,” said Turman, whose team beat Waverly twice last season — 30-14 in the regular season and 34-14 at Waverly in a state semifinal game. “If we let them (Waverly) get downhill on us, they’re going to be tough to stop.”
It’s been a smooth transition from wideout to behind center for Gordon. Between a big offensive line led by Super-State senior and Northern Iowa recruit Blake Anderson (6-4, 285), a productive ground game with senior running back Grant Diesing (453 yards, four TDs) and senior fullback Gunner Ott (256 yards, five TDs), and a passing game that has seen 12 different receivers catch balls, Gordon’s confidence comes from all the pieces in place around him.
Tight end Max Brinker (6-1, 210) leads the receivers with 17 catches for 346 yards and three touchdowns, one of seven receivers to score this season.
“We have one of the biggest offensive lines in the state, a three-headed monster in the backfield and a bunch of guys at receiver that I can trust to go out and make a play,” Gordon said. “The nice thing is, we’re 6-0 and we still haven’t peaked or played the perfect game yet. We still have a lot of room for improvement.”
Gordon says it will be strength against strength with Waverly’s running game colliding with Skutt’s front seven defensively. Junior linebackers Jacob Leu (5-11, 180) and Dominic Melrose (5-10, 160) lead the team in tackles with 41 and 34, respectively, with Brinker not far behind at 32.
The line, led by Anderson and 6-2, 235-pound senior Ryne Emanuel, set it all up for the second wave of defenders.
“This is one of those games where you’re going to wake up a little sore on Saturday morning,” Gordon said.
Gordon and his teammates don’t downplay or minimize Skutt’s winning streak, the longest active string in the state. In fact, they use it for motivation.
“The streak is big for us, we want to get it to 20 and beyond. You don’t want to lose it,” Gordon said. “Every week, we want to prove to everyone that we’re the best team in the state and that we deserve to have that winning streak.”