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Class D-2 Championship: Falls City vs. Twin Loup

Falls City Sacred Heart's Drew Bippes is one of the state's top quarterbacks.

Teams to watch

(In alphabetical order)

Preseason ratings will run Aug. 17

Bloomfield (11-1, D-2 state quarterfinals, No. 3 final ranking): Three starters back on offense and four more defensively should help ease the pain of graduating all-state running back Quinten Moles. Senior linebacker Brantson Gieselman is the Bees’ headliner.

Blue Hill (12-1, D-2 state finals, No. 4 final ranking): The Bobcats graduated 11 seniors, but three starters are back on both sides of the ball in seniors C Tony Bauman (6-foot-1, 225), RB Joe Mackin (5-9, 150) and QB JC Himmelberg (6-4, 180).

Falls City Sacred Heart (10-2, D-2 state semifinals, No. 2 final ranking): The only team to beat the Irish the last two years — BDS — has moved up into D-1. Senior Drew Bippes is the returning all-state quarterback, with junior OL/DL Sloan Lenard (6-1, 215) and talented sophomore RB/LB Del Casteel (5-11, 200) back as the other starters.

Johnson-Brock (6-5, D-1 state quarterfinals, No. 9 final ranking): The Eagles return one of the best receivers in the state regardless of class in junior all-stater Ty Hahn, and a senior quarterback in Cole Fossenbarger who threw for 2,305 yards and rushed for 479 more. Four starters are back on both sides of the ball, a total that doesn’t include talented sophomore Kaden Glynn.

Mullen (11-1, D-2 state semifinals, No. 6 final ranking): Five starters back on both sides of the ball gives the Broncos a solid foundation to build off of. Senior all-state RB/DB Lane Edis will lead the way.

Riverside (11-0, 6-man state champions, No. 1 final ranking): The Chargers bring back five starters on both sides of the ball, which should make for an easy transition to D-2. Senior Ty Martinsen has been the defensive player of the year the past two years in six-man, while senior Joseph Bloom was also an all-stater last season.

Returning all-staters

QB Drew Bippes, Falls City SH, 6-0, 160, sr.: Earned all-state honors a year ago by passing for 1,100 yards and 22 TDs. Also a threat to run.

WR/LB Ty Hahn, Johnson-Brock, 6-2, 185, jr.: The all-stater had 1,147 receiving yards and 24 TDs a year ago offensively and registered 119 tackles and intercepted five passes on defense.

RB/DB Lane Edis, Mullen, 5-9, 175, sr.: Rushed for 2,325 yards and 45 TDs a year ago and scored another five times on pass receptions. Edis also made his presence felt on defense with 71 tackles and six interceptions.

RB/LB Ty Martinsen, Riverside, 5-11, 210, sr.: Rushed for 1,669 yards and 30 TDs for the Chargers and compiled 139 tackles, five fumble recoveries and four interceptions on defense.

DE/TE Joseph Bloom, Riverside, 6-6, 210, sr.: Has the height, strength and speed to dominate on the edge for the Chargers. One of just three seniors on the squad.

What’s new in 2018

Riverside moves up to D-2 after winning the last four six-man football state titles and its last 37 games. Medicine Valley, CWCE, Kenesaw and Johnson-Brock, No. 6, 7, 8 and 9, respectively, in last year’s final D-1 ratings, move down a class.

Games to watch

A24: CWCE at Hartington-Newcastle.

A30: Lawrence-Nelson at Falls City SH.

A31: Humphrey SF at Wynot.

S14: Lawrence-Nelson at Johnson-Brock.

S28: Lawrence-Nelson at Kenesaw, Randolph at Wynot.

O4: Bloomfield at Randolph.

O5: Blue Hill at Lawrence-Nelson, Hartington-Newcastle at Wynot.

O12: Wynot at Bloomfield, Kenesaw at Blue Hill, Riverside at Humphrey SF.

O18: Falls City SH at Johnson-Brock, Bloomfield at Hartington-Newcastle.

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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