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Teams to watch

(In alphabetical order)

Preseason ratings will run Aug. 17

Cody Kilgore (9-1, Six-man semifinals, No. 3 final ranking): Five starters are back, although RB Tyler Ravenscroft, a physical 6-3, 190-pound senior, may miss part of the season with an injury. Claysen Davis, a 6-3, 235-pound junior G/DT, is also a standout.

Deshler (7-2, Six-man quarterfinals, No. 4 final ranking): The Dragons graduated a large senior class, but do return senior all-state quarterback Peyton Dubbert and another senior -- 5-10, 175-pound Hutch Finke -- was honorable mention all-state a year ago.

Harvard (10-1, Six-man state finals, No. 2 final ranking): The Cardinals graduated three all-state players. The cupboard, however, is far from bare with three starters back on both sides of the ball, a group led by senior E/DE Hunter Wilkerson and junior quarterback Noah Okraska.

Hay Springs (8-2, Six-man state semifinals, No. 5 final ranking): All-state running back Trent Reed leads seven returning starters – three on offense and four defensively.

Hyannis (5-4, Six-man state quarterfinals): With seven seniors, five starters back on offense and all six returning on defense, the Longhorns have the experience to make a run in the playoffs. Senior quarterback Jackson Davis (6-2, 205) and senior running back Kobee Olson (5-11, 175) combined for almost 3,000 yards of total offense and 51 TDs.

Spalding Academy (7-2, Six-man state quarterfinals): The Shamrocks return a pair of senior all-state starters in Colton Leslie and 6-6, 210-pounder Mathew Bloom.

Wilcox-Hildreth (5-3): All-state RB/LB AJ Jenkins leads six starters back on both sides of the ball. Jenkins is one of six seniors on the squad.

Players to watch

QB Peyton Dubbert, Deshler, 6-1, 175, sr.: The all-stater threw for 2,010 yards and 40 TDs a year ago.

RB Trent Reed, Hay Springs, 5-9, 185, sr.: His 2,401 yards a year ago as an all-stater increased his career total to 4,217 with 71 TDs.

QB/LB/K Kaleb Gonzales, Minatare, 5-8, 150, jr.: The returning all-state kicker is also a dual-threat quarterback with speed.

RB/LB AJ Jenkins, Wilcox-Hildreth, 6-1, 180, sr.: Earned all-state honors with 1,196 yards, giving him 3,852 for his career heading into this season. Also had 109 tackles.

What’s new in 2018

Six-man football becomes sanctioned by the NSAA this season and the number of schools in the class increases from 25 to 31. There will be 16 teams advance to the playoffs and those games will be on four consecutive Fridays with the state title contest set for Nov. 16 at Nebraska-Kearney’s Cope Stadium.

Games to watch

A23: Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family at Deshler.

A24: Harvard at Spalding Academy.

A31: Deshler at Wilcox-Hildreth.

S14: Harvard at Sterling.

S21: Hay Springs at Cody-Kilgore.

O5: Hyannis at Cody-Kilgore, Sterling at Deshler.

O12: Hay Springs at Hyannis.

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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