By Scott Hansen
Class B Preseason Rankings
1. McCook (11-1)
Season opener: Friday vs. Scottsbluff
McCook's rise to power in Nebraska's second-largest class has been predicated on defense. This year will be no exception. In 2006, the Bison allowed just over six points per game and posted five shutouts in 12 games. Unfortunately for the rest of Class B, McCook's defense might be better this time around. Linebacker Sam Frazier led the Bison with 148 tackles last season. Maybe the defensive player with the most upside is junior defensive end Tyrone Sellers, a Preseason MaxPreps All-State selection.
Junior Dylan Goltl rushed for six touchdowns as a sophomore and could be one of the premier backs outside of Class A after this season.
2. Crete (12-1)
Beat Seward, 33-6 to open 2007 season. The Cardinals rolled up 376 rushing yards in the victory. Senior running back Cody Wockenfuss led the way with 105 yards on eight carries. Next: Friday at #7 Hastings.
Nebraska commit John Leverson leads the way for the Cardinals. As a junior while leading Crete to the Class B state title, Leverson threw for 1,580 yards and 17 touchdowns and also added four interceptions on the season. Junior Trevor Florendo and Wockenfuss are two players to watch for Crete.
3. Omaha Skutt (9-2)
Season opener: Friday vs. Schuyler (0-1).
The Skyhawks are led by Preseason All-State selection Nick Anderson. Anderson, a Division I prospect, reeled in six touchdown passes last season for Skutt. Austin Cole is set to have a huge season at quarterback.
4. Elkhorn (12-1)
Season opener: Friday at #5 Beatrice.
We all know there is offensive lineman Trevor Robinson, but there is more to the Antlers than this Top 100 player nationally. Elkhorn has traditionally been one of the top programs in Class B, and will look to make a serious push for a state title in 2007.
5. Beatrice (9-3)
Season opener: Friday vs. #4 Elkhorn.
Quarterback Zach Ruiz returns after throwing for over 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns. Normally losing a good chunk of your roster would be cause for concern. Not for a program like Beatrice.
6. Omaha Gross (6-4)
Season opener: Friday vs. #8 Lincoln Pius X.
Running back/linebacker C.J. Zimmerer, a junior, leads the way for the Cougars. Quarterback John Dostal threw for 12 touchdowns, while wide receiver Brian Boro was the top offensive talent for Gross, catching seven touchdowns and averaging just under 24 yards per reception.
7. Hastings (5-5)
Season opener: Friday vs. #2 Crete.
For the Tigers, a running back combo of seniors Jon White and Travis Morrow will be difficult to tame. Both will also do their part on defense as the starting linebackers. As always, Hastings will have its say in the Class B title race.
8. Lincoln Pius X (5-5)
Season opener: Friday at #6 Omaha Gross.
The Thunderbolts are led by 6-4 wideout K.C. Hyland. As a junior, Hyland caught three touchdown passes for Pius X. If the inexperienced players show no ill-effects of their transition to the varsity level, Pius X will be a serious threat in Class B.
9. Ralston (6-4)
Season opener: Friday vs. Blair.
The Rams are in a loaded B-2 District along with Skutt and Gross. Ralston will challenge the front runners, led by Derek Sandel. Sandel rushed for seven scores as a junior and recorded 107 tackles for Ralston.
10. Holdrege (8-3)
Season opener: Friday at Minden.
The Dusters, paired in district play with McCook, posted a respectable 8-3 mark in 2006. Nick Smith was one of the top defensive players in the state after posting 82 tackles as a junior. Smith could move to quarterback to give Holdrege an athletic option.
Team to watch: Aurora (7-3)
Beat Schuyler, 32-15, to open 2007 season. Next: Friday vs. Grand Island Northwest.
The player to watch for the Huskies is 6-5, 285-pound sophomore Andrew Rodriguez. Rodriguez started as a freshman and could be one of the top linemen in the state in 2008 and 2009.
Class C-1 Preseason Rankings (*denotes 2007 record)
1. Hastings St. Cecilia (10-2)
2. Auburn (13-0)
3. Norfolk Catholic (9-3)
4. Pierce (9-1)
5. Chadron (8-2)
6. Wahoo Bishop Neumann (*1-0)
7. Boys Town (8-2)
8. Chase County (10-1)
9. Boone Central (7-3)
10. Columbus Lakeview (7-3)
Team to Watch: Bennington (6-3)
Top C-1 Players
Andy Mink- LB- Ashland-Greenwood
Troy Williams- WR- Auburn
Durron Wayne- DB- Fillmore Central
Jono Schwenka- QB- Hastings St. Cecilia
Eric Koehlmoos- RB- Pierce (jr.)
Tyler Daake- K- Norfolk Catholic (jr.)
Matt Spain- DL- Valentine
Cody Roes- LB- Chadron
Quante Dorsey- RB- Madison
Kaleb Christiansen- ATH- Columbus Lakeview
Chris Leak- DL- Boys Town
Class C-2 Preseason Rankings (*denotes 2007 record)
1. Howells (*1-0)
2. Wakefield (13-0)
3. Fremont Archbishop Bergan (*1-0)
4. East Butler (7-3)
5. Perkins County (*1-0)
6. Laurel-Concord (6-4)
7. Oakland-Craig (9-2)
8. Stanton (5-4)
9. David City Aquinas (6-3)
10. West Point Central Catholic (6-3)
Team to Watch: Elmwood-Murdock (0-1)
Top C-2 Players
Tate Cunningham- ATH- Laurel-Concord
Eric Burenheide- ATH- Howells
Jeff Pokorny- OL- Howells
Jordan Makovicka- RB- East Butler
Joey Spellerburg- QB- Archbishop Bergan
Scott Hansen: firstname.lastname@example.org