Playoff berths are officially on the line as we enter the final stretch of the high school football season. Here’s the key information to know for Week 8:
Games of the week
Class A No. 2 Bellevue West (6-1) at No. 10 Columbus (6-1), 7 p.m. Friday: After a Week 1 loss to Omaha Central, Columbus has ripped off six consecutive wins ahead of its biggest game of the season. Bellevue West is averaging 58.6 points per game since its loss to Millard South.
Prediction: Bellevue West 49, Columbus 28.
Class B No. 4 Aurora (5-2) at No. 8 Northwest (4-3), 7 p.m. Friday: Aurora’s difficult start has prepared the Huskies well for the rest of the season, but their five-game win streak is in danger this week. Northwest quarterback Sam Hartman returned from an injury last week, and the Huskies have topped the 30-point mark five times this season.
Prediction: Northwest 36, Aurora 31.
Class C-1 No. 5 Columbus Scotus (7-0) at No. 3 Boone Central (7-0), 7 p.m. Friday: Boone Central has proved itself one of the best teams in C-1 with wins over Pierce and Wayne, and the Cardinals could jump to No. 1 with a win here. Columbus Scotus has beaten several playoff teams, but Boone Central is its toughest opponent yet.
Prediction: Boone Central 28, Columbus Scotus 21.
Class C-2 No. 8 Lincoln Lutheran (5-2) at Centennial (5-2), 7 p.m. Friday: Lincoln Lutheran is coming off an impressive win over Bishop Neumann, and the Warrior defense has played a big part in all of their wins. A victory could secure a playoff spot for Centennial, which has an excellent rushing offense.
Prediction: Lincoln Lutheran 21, Centennial 17.
Eight-man Class D-1 No. 6 Lutheran High Northeast (7-0) at Laurel-C-C (6-1), 7 p.m. Friday: An excellent test for both teams in the final regular-season week, Laurel-C-C may be the toughest team Lutheran High NE has seen all season. Laurel-C-C’s only loss was to No. 8 Stanton in Week 3.
Prediction: Laurel-C-C 40, Lutheran High Northeast 36.
Six-man Pawnee City (4-2) at No. 4 Red Cloud (6-0), 7 p.m. Friday: One of the four undefeated six-man teams left, Red Cloud faces another difficult opponent after beating Franklin 60-18 last week. Pawnee City fared well against No. 2 Sterling last week, losing 38-28 in a close game.
Prediction: Red Cloud 47, Pawnee City 33.
Other city games
Class C-1 No. 6 Milford (6-1) at Lincoln Christian (3-4), 7 p.m. Friday: After a four-game losing streak against teams that will make the playoffs, Lincoln Christian has bounced back well with a pair of wins. The Crusaders could create an exciting finish to their season if they knock off one of C-1’s best teams.
Lincoln Pius X (2-5) at Norris (3-4), 7 p.m. Friday: Former Class B rivals meet once again as Norris looks to secure its spot in the Class B playoffs. Coming off a tough loss to Omaha North last week, Pius X has two winnable games left on its schedule.
Lincoln Northeast (2-5) at Class A No. 10 Lincoln East (5-2), 8 p.m. Friday, Seacrest: Now having thrown five or more touchdown passes in five consecutive games, East quarterback Noah Walters returns to Seacrest for his likely final home game. Lincoln Northeast has scored 14 points or fewer in its last three games.
Lincoln Southwest (2-5) at Class A No. 7 Omaha Burke (6-1), 7 p.m. Friday: Southwest ends its season against a pair of tough Omaha opponents, starting with a Burke team that has won six in a row. The Bulldogs haven’t allowed more than 21 points since that Week 1 loss, a mark Southwest has reached twice this season.
Omaha Northwest (1-6) at Lincoln High (3-4), 7 p.m. Friday, Beechner: The Links’ playoff chances came to an end after a loss to Kearney last week, but a win in their final home game would be a nice consolation for the talented senior class, including quarterback Jareese Lott-Buzby.
Dorchester (1-5) at Six-man No. 7 Parkview Christian (4-2), 4 p.m. Friday: Dorchester picked up its first win of the season last week and is better than its record suggests due to a strong schedule. With a win in its final home game, Parkview Christian could pick up some momentum for the playoffs.
Class A No. 1 Millard South (7-0) at Lincoln North Star (1-6), 4:30 p.m. Friday, Seacrest: Fresh off his commitment to Nebraska, Millard South quarterback Gage Stenger will face a North Star team that has lost six straight games. North Star failed to score a point in its 47-0 loss to Fremont two weeks ago.
Two storylines to follow
OPS forfeits: After an on-field fight broke out at the conclusion of Omaha Bryan’s 24-21 win over Omaha Benson last week, both schools will forfeit their Week 8 games. Omaha Public Schools Director of Athletics John Krogstrand and both schools principals released a joint statement about the decision, saying “because multiple student-athletes from each team were involved, we have collectively determined that both teams’ participation in games scheduled for this week will be forfeited.”
Both OPS schools were already out of playoff contention heading into Week 8, as was Omaha Benson’s Week 8 opponent, Millard North. Lost in the shuffle is No. 3 Omaha Westside’s senior night against Omaha Bryan. If the Mustangs and Warriors hadn’t played each other two weeks ago, that would be an easy solution. Would Omaha Westside consider playing an out-of-state opponent? Alternatively, perhaps both teams could use some rest ahead of their regular-season finales.
Scramble for the playoffs: Naturally, Week 8 games mean the world to teams fighting for their playoff chances. In Class A, several teams scrambling to keep their seasons alive have golden opportunities this week to climb in the wild-card point standings. Papillion-La Vista South, currently No. 15 in the wild-card standings, faces No. 4 Creighton Prep, but the likes of Millard West or Norfolk could jump the Titans with their own wins. Similar situations are unfolding in all of the state’s classes.
One burning question
Will the clear No. 1 teams slow down at all?
While Class C-1 has five undefeated teams that all can claim they deserve the No. 1 spot, there are clearly teams that stand head and shoulders above the rest of Class A, B and C-2. Class A No. 1 Millard South has rolled to three comfortable wins after overcoming Bellevue West, Class B No. 1 Bennington dominated Elkhorn last week and Class C-2 No. 1 Archbishop Bergan hasn’t been tested in the fourth quarter yet. All three are apparent state-title favorites, so will they limit starter’s minutes or keep the scoring low in their final two regular-season games?
High school football Week 7 is in the books. Here's all of the Journal Star's content, in one spot
Week 7! Our team was out around the city and area to uncover all of the stories that came out of Friday night — here's what we got.
Xavier Albertson intercepted a pass at his team's 1-yard line midway through the fourth quarter to help Class A No. 10 North Platte down No. 8 Lincoln East.
With the backdrop of homecoming and alumni appreciation night, there were truly no empty seats in the stadium. And they had plenty to cheer about.
A touchdown pass in the final minute decided a No. 3 vs. No. 4 matchup — “I just said he couldn’t underthrow it,."
Gavin Sukup completed a 10-yard touchdown pass to Micah Hackbart with 9 seconds remaining to life the Bluejays in a thriller.
The Vikings entered the game 1-5 on the season. But, at this time last year, they weren't in the classroom or playing football.
On the other sideline, Rockets coach Dan Martin talked about a Mike Singletary quote he used to motivate his team this week.
The Warriors (5-2) were trailing 7-3 when a 75-yard, 14-play march resulted in a 10-yard touchdown pass to put Lutheran in front to stay.
When you’re part of a high school football program that has won nine state titles, there are naturally some expectations about winning.
Reach the writer at 402-473-7437 or at LMullin@journalstar.com. On Twitter @lmullin7