It only took eight games for senior quarterback Jampe’ Gergen to break Lincoln Southeast’s single-season passing record.
Even though Gergen went down with a season-ending knee injury in the first quarter of the seventh-ranked Knights’ 14-10 win over Lincoln Southwest in the opening round of the Class A state football playoffs last week, his receivers say it will be business as usual when Southeast (7-3) plays at No. 1 Omaha Burke (10-0) in the quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Friday.
“As long as we do what we did all season and trust in each other, it shouldn’t change anything,” said senior receiver Michael Anderson, who hauled in touchdown passes of 89 and 24 yards from the player who was the JV quarterback earlier this fall, Coleby Daffer, in the win over Southwest.
“I trust Coleby and all of our receivers do, too.”
Daffer hit 4 of 9 passes for 134 yards against the Silver Hawks. Southeast coach Ryan Gottula expects both the 5-foot-10, 160-pound junior and 6-1, 160-pound sophomore McGuinness Schneider to take snaps against the Bulldogs, who beat Southeast 49-28 in the season-opener.
For another senior wide receiver, Brehan Lambert, it should be a seamless transition to whoever the quarterback will be in any given situation.
“We have to make the tougher catches,” Lambert said. “Our job is to make (the quarterbacks) look good, and if we do our job, those guys will know we have their back and they’ll be more confident out there.”
Opponents can’t focus on stopping just one receiver because the Knights have spread the ball around in the passing game, sparked by Gergen’s 1,712 yards through the air and 13 touchdowns. Junior Isaac Gifford, a star running back and safety, is also done for the season with a knee injury.
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The 5-7, 165-pound Lambert has been the possession receiver with 46 catches for 397 yards and a pair of scores. Isaac Appleget, a 6-3, 190-pound junior who is also a starting cornerback and a possible Division I college recruit, is a big target over the middle, hauling in 38 passes for 576 yards and five TDs.
Anderson, a 6-2 standout guard in basketball, is out for football for the first time since his freshman year. His emergence late in the season has produced 30 receptions for 559 yards and five scores.
“Jampe, Brehan, all those guys were saying, ‘Play football, it’s your last year, you’ll have fun,'" said Anderson, who has basketball scholarship offers from both Doane and Hastings. “I’m glad I did it. We’re a good football team and I’m happy to be a part of it.”
Gottula said the diverse talents of all three players blend together well and make the Knights more difficult to defend.
“Isaac is a great route runner with great hands and is very good blocking on the edge. He does a lot of things for us,” said Gottula, whose team has won its past five games. “Brehan is one of the make-you-miss guys with tremendous quickness running bubble screens and speed to stretch the field.
“Mike has been able to bring the athleticism he has on a basketball court onto the football field this season,” Gottula added. “He’s really grown into a real threat on the backside of those other guys.”