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.
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.