Nebraska High School Football’s Returning 1000 Yard Pass Receivers - 2019.

Five of the Sensational Seven returning 1000 yard receivers came from the Eight Man football ranks.

There are normally 90 plus Nebraska prep running backs that rush for over a thousand yards each year, maybe half that number of quarterbacks that throw for over a thousand, but when it comes to 1000 yard receivers, it’s a pretty exclusive lot

Last season, there were somewhere in the neighborhood of a Baker’s dozen, but when seven were underclassmen, that is a rare football season indeed.

So without further adieu, let’s meet the “The Sensational Seven.” of 2019.

*Xavier Watts-Omaha Burke - 6-1, 180, Senior, (67 receptions for 1,093 yards, 14 TDs) - The Notre Dame commit simply put, is one complete football player. Watts had offers from Nebraska, Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Louisville, Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue, South Dakota State, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Penn State before the Bulldog star gave the Fighting Irish a verbal commit back on June 5th if I recall correctly.

This fine young man is such a spirited, engaged football player.And, Xavier Watts football heart is in high gear whether it’s 98 degrees outside or 10 degrees below wind chill. The guy just wants to be out there playing the game whether it’s on offense, defense or both sides of the ball..

Not many athletes can catch 1,093 yards worth of Tyler Chadwick passes and still play defense with such intensity that he makes 58 tackles, picks off five passes, one of which went to the house on a Pick 6 against a great Omaha North team

And talk about coming up huge in the playoffs. Good lord, thats’ an understatement. Try 8 receptions for 108 yards and a touchdown, plus 10 critical tackles in the ‘Dogs 35-28 frigid semifinal win over Millard West and we haven’t even began conversing what a force Watts was in that Class A state championship 24-20 victory over a terrific Grand Island football team.

Xavier Watts was a one man wrecking crew against the hard-nosed Islanders, catching 11 passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns. One of those TD journeys covered 62 yards, when the impossible to cover Watts, zipped by one of Class A’s best cover men. On another catch, it took 5 or 6 Grand Island defenders to wrestle Xavier to the Memorial Stadium turf.

There are some very recognizable traits that confirm Mr. Watts Division On status. One no-brainer is his speed, which enables him to blow by defenders with ease. If there was a defensive back that could cover Watts one-on-one, I certainly didn’t see him in 2018. Another is his game changing ability to out jump defenders and grab the pass reception, and at 6’1”, that’s really impressive.

But it’s what happens after the leaping catch that just gets my pulse going.

It’s almost like Watts has two tiny jet-propelled engines on the heal of each foot, blasting into high gear the instant his foot touches the ground. After that, it’s “see you in the rear view, baby.” And don’t forget that Xavier Watts is a fine downfield blocker to boot.

On defense, it’s simply Xavier having built in radar for the man with the football, the sharp desire to make the big play, and his sure-handed tackling mechanics.

Friends, this is one very special football player who I think will make some serious noise at the next level. A real baller.

*Lucas Vogt-BRLD - 5-11, 165 Junior - (59 catches for 1,169 yards, 19 TDs) - A two sport All-State athlete as a sophomore for the Wolverines, Lucas Vogt leads the Sensational Seven returning one thousand yard receivers. How talented is this young man?

Turn the clock back to late March of this year and watch the 4 sources that choose All-State basketball teams scratch their heads, wondering who to place on that Class C-2 1st Team Al-State team from an incredibly talented, yet balanced state champion BRLD squad. This guy chose Lucas Vogt, once again illustrating the intelligence and versatility of this special athlete.

Vogt teamed up with 1000 yard passing/rushing quarterback Will Gatzemeyer to form the most lethal pass/catch duo in Class C-2 in 2018.

Full of magical, Houdini-like moves, Vogt is a master of trickery when, not only initiating, but carrying out a pass route. There were times when the “now-you-see-me, now-you-don’t” Wolverine wide receiver would have his defender twisted around and beaten before he even took off downfield.

On the defensive side of things, Lucas was a heat seeking missile with a nose for the football. The sure-tackling No. 15 recorded a monster 81 tackles in 2018, of which half a hundred were solo stops. Vogt also picked off 5 passes, taking one to the house last season.

From where I’m viewing things, it certainly doesn’t appear that Mr. Vogt and his BRLD teammates are going to experience any drop offs in football this Fall, so get yourself prepared for more big statistical numbers from this young man.

*Ty Hahn-Johnson-Brock - 6-2, 187, Senior, (62 receptions for 1,165, 23 TDs) - Ty Hahn is one the most decorated and talented athletes in both 8-Man football and small school basketball. Whenever the phrase “is this kid ever gonna graduate?” is overused on an athlete, it usually applies to Ty Hahn and you know the dude is special.

In three seasons as a starter for Johnson-Brock, Hahn has compiled some impressive numbers. The 187 pound Division One (North Dakota) recruit has 154 receptions for 2,897 yards and 55 touchdowns. Hahn has 15 additional TDs in four other categories; 9 rushing, 2 INT returns, 2 punt return scores and a pair of kick returns he took to the house.

Add all the yards and points together and Ty Hahn has accumulated 4,178 All-Purpose yards and 420 points.

On the defensive side of the ball, Hahn has made a staggering 292 career tackles (129 solo, 163 assists), accumulated 10 interceptions, recovered 3 fumbles and blocked 2 punts. Already a two time All-State football selection, the Eagles star has racked up an even dozen 100 yard plus receiving games too.

Now, Ty Hahn does have a Division One offer from North Dakota University. If he happens to receive an offer from a power conference, Hahn would be the first in-state Eight Man player to do that since Nathan Bazada scored one from the University of Iowa back in 2013.

Now, if the Huskers would happen to offer Ty Hahn, it would the first time an in-state 8-Man football player has been offered since big Steve Kriewald from North Loup-Scotia (Class of 2000) nailed one twenty years ago.

I also would like to have you check this out. The past two seasons for Ty Hahn have been nothing short of video game numbers as far as catching passes is concerned. As a sophomore, Hahn hauled in 59 passes from Cole Fossenbarger for 1,147 yards and 24 TDs. That’s a touchdown every 2.5 times he caught a football. As seen above, last year Hahn caught 62 aerials from Fossenbarger for 1,165 big ones and 23 scores. That is a TD every 2.8 receptions.

You just finally run out of words to paint the proper picture describing Ty Hahn. The guy has already been named All-State basketball three times, won the 200 meter dash and was 2nd in the 100 his sophomore season at the State Track Meet. He also ran times of :10.9 and :22.1 back in May of this year at District Track meet before pulling a hamstring that prevented him from running at Omaha Burke.

If you want to know the truth, Ty Hahn could probably be an all-stater if Johnson-Brock fielded a water polo team. He’s that kind of special athlete.

This 2019 football season will be a severe test for Ty Hahn. The senior-to-be will be in a situation most superior athletes dread. Every single starter from last seasons state championship team was lost via graduation or transfer……….except Hahn. Gone is all-state quarterback Cole Fossenbarger, who fired the majority (if not all) the scoring passes to Ty.

So, this will be an uphill battle for battle for Ty Hahn to begin the season, although head coach Mitch Roberts reports that the younger players have had a terrific summer in that Johnson-Brock weight room, are ready to build on that 2018 state title. Stay tuned.

*Ben Gebhardt-Lutheran High NE - 6-2, 180, Senior - (54 catches for 1,072 yards, 15 TDs)

Not sure if 6-2, 180 pounds is Ben’s correct height/weight, but last season he was listed at 6-1, 175 pounds and played like he was 6-4 or 6-5 and 190 pounds. Hence the “Big Ben” reference.

Gebhardt for some reason, reminds me of East Butler’s three time all-stater Trevor Havlovic. The 6-2, 210 pound Havlovic played from 2014-2017 for the Tigers and was All-State selection at tight end and linebacker. “Big Ben” actually played last season 35 pounds lighter and an inch shorter than the East Butler star, but was faster, but just as versatile in many ways.

What you should know about the speedy Gebhardt, is that many of his pass receptions were short flair type aerials, leaving it up to Ben to show his strength and elusiveness after the catch. The Eagles made a living to some extent, on that short little screen type pass to Big Ben that nobody ever seemed to make the necessary adjustments in order to stop the long gain.

That is not only a credit to Gebhardt, but to that Lutheran High NE offensive line blocking, and it was crisp. And of course, like all great receivers, Ben ended up making a touchdown catch every 3.6 times he caught a Jaxson Kant pass.

I cannot vouch for this, but there is a pass receiving category on some stat sheets entitled “targeted/caught”, and Gebhardt could not have been too far away from perfection in that category because if Kant targeted him, Big Ben caught the pass..

I could not find how many total tackles Ben Gebhardt made a year ago (it was a bunch), but I do know he led Class D-1 with 9 interceptions according to Huskerland Prep Report, and that is a ton of picks, folks. That isn’t all this multi-talented Norfolk Lutheran product can do either.

Case in point. I caught Lutheran High Northeast’s 66-26 Halloween night victory over a fine Osceola/High Plains team in the 2nd Round of the D-1 playoffs a year ago. In that game alone, Ben Gebhardt caught a 25 yard touchdown pass, intercepted three Stormdog passes and return two kickoffs for scores, covering 76 and 75 yards.

You may want to keep an eye on Mr. Gebhardt’s stats this Fall. The man is simply amazing.

*Andrew Waltke-Palmyra - 6-1, 160, Sophomore (76 receptions for 1,066 yards/14 TDs) - Yeah, you read that correctly, 76 receptions and that came in just 8 games for the freshman Andrew Waltke. That’s an average of 9 catches and 118 yards per game for the amazing 9th grader who probably wasn’t even old enough to have a driver’s license at the time.

The Palmyra Panthers finished their 2018 season with an even-steven 5-3 record, but were ineligible for the D-1 playoffs because of too many boys in grades 9-11. It was their first season playing Eight Man football and the main reason for Andrew Waltke’s phenomenal success was the presence of record setting (record crushing) quarterback Koby Dillon.

Last season alone, Dillon completed 161 of 260 passes for 1,984 yards and 24 touchdowns. Waltke latched on to nearly half of Dillon’s accurate passes and accounted for over half of his TD completions. Lest we forget to give Koby Dillon his credit due, his three year career passing total read; 5,166 yards with 50 TDs and a 60% completion rate. And the shame of it all was that it went literally unnoticed in most locations away from Southeastern Nebraska.

Hey Koby, if it means anything, we thought you were sensational!

Hey, I’m letting you know right here and now, this Andrew Waltke dude is a whale of a football player. The lad played way above his freshman level a year ago. Way above.

Want a comparison? You know what Division One recruit Ty Hahn’s freshman receiving stats looked like? 33 receptions for 585 yards and 8 TDs.

Okay, you can return your jaw to its normal position now. Yes, Andrew Waltke was that good.

Palmyra head coach Tyler Maas and the fellas devised some pretty slick pass routes for Koby Dillon and Andrew Waltke in 2018 and all featured the freshman sensation’s versatility. Two of those routes really caught my eye. Now I’m probably disclosing information Maas doesn’t want to give away, but anyone scouting Palmyra had to see them.

The first route has Waltke simply taking a step back from the scrimmage line,receiving the pass, then performing his magic. The other(s) is a variety of crossing patterns sending Andrew across the middle. All worked well, but it was the 6-1, 160 pounder’s moves that made the difference.

Andrew was also a devastating blocker on offense and a solid hitter on both defense and special teams. He 64 tackles (34 solos, 8 for losses) as a starter for the Panther “D” and picked off a pair of passes.

Now, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. 1) Last season Andrew Waltke actually attempted 4 passes. He completed all four for a total for 64 yards and a touchdown. 2) Palmyra gains a pair of senior wide receiver transfers from Lincoln East this year and they are Trent Hammond and Dominic Darrah.

So, word from Mr. Bob Jensen is that Andrew Waltke may just move to Quarterback. How ‘bout them apples? Bad news for opponents.

Stay tuned. Be nice if Palmyra were eligible for the playoffs this season, eh?

*Noah Schutte-Laurel/Concord/Coleridge - 6-4, 190, Senior (66 receptions, 1,039 yards, 19 TDs) - Like Johnson-Brock’s Ty Hahn, Noah Schuette was an All-State Football (DB) and All-State Basketball his junior season for the Bears. Long, lean, yet 190 pounds strong, the LCC standout can get it done on any athletic surface.

Watching film is one thing, but when you see an athlete perform live and he causes your jaw to drop, you have something there. Case in point for Schuette was the 1st Round D-2 40-34 playoff loss to Fullerton. I

I just happen to be there that evening, and this kid just bedeviled the Warriors all night despite the fact they were covering him like a blanket and gang tackling the guy every time he caught a pass…….like all 18 times for 190 yards and a TD. Uh yeah.

Now, Noah must have missed a game in 2018 because his 1,039 yards were racked up in just 8 outings. That’s 8 catches a game, 130 yards game and a touchdown every 3.4 times he pulls in a pass.

Noah Schuette has very good speed, is a terror on defense, can be a dangerous return artist and is a trustworthy punter with his 36 yard average. Again, like Ty Hahn, this season will be different for Noah with the graduation loss of the Bears gunslinging QB, Izac Reifenrath. Schuette caught 19 of Reifenrath’s 25 touchdown tosses and accounted for 64% of his passing yardage.

On defense, Schuette is all over the field. In 2018 he logged 50 tackles (31 solos), made 4 interceptions, and was continuously a vicious hitter that loved to bring the wood.

Before we feel too sorry for Noah Schuette losing the man that pulls the trigger on those passes, know this. Laurel-Concord-Coleridge returns 7 starters on each side of the ball. Was Izac Reifenrath the only lost starter? This is 8-Man football, ya know.

I’m hearing that sophomore Evan Schmitt will take over the quarterbacking duties up there in Laurel, and may be good enough to hit ground running. Even if it takes a little time to grasp the feel, the youngster still has an All-State receiver to target. Besides, I can’t imagine any Laurel football team not having a QB that can’t fling that thing.

Noah Schuette, without a shadow of a doubt, is one of the state’s premier smaller school athletes.

*Rody Lyon-Giltner - 6-1, 160, Senior - (68 catches for 1,029 yards, 10 TDs) - Gee, another 1000 yard receiver for Giltner Air Raid Factory. Sounds like old hat, but it happens more often than not in Hornet country, churning out the thousand yard receivers like Anselmo-Merna does 1000 yard rushers.

I cannot recall Giltner ever having a bad football team….ever. Even last year’ 3-5 team was not close to being bad, considering they played Humphrey St. Francis, Lawrence-Nelson, Kenesaw, Overton and Central Valley. One of the consistent bright spots on that 2018 Giltner squad was definitely Rody Lyon. Don’t get me wrong, there were other bright spots, as usual for the Hornets, but this young man was always there and always ready to play.

I saw Rody and the Giltner boys play on a crazy Saturday afternoon game in Lawrence against a strong, strong Lawrence-Nelson team. The home team decided to run a zone pass defense against Lyons and Giltner that day and it blew up. Rody caught a 30 yard touchdown pass and the Hornets were off and running to a potential upset with a 24-8 lead.

The Hornets were still tied with the mighty Raiders 36-36 at the half, but Lawrence-Nelson came out and outscored Giltner 70-14 during the 3rd and 4th quarters, enroute to a seemingly embarrassing 96-50 victory. Surprisingly enough, I don’t believe the Raiders ran the score up the score that day.. Giltner kept fighting back for a while, then finally wore down and finally gave up….all but Rody Lyon.

I was up close and personal on that Giltner sideline that day and Rody was taking a brutal beating but never gave up, kept encouraging his teammates and continued to dish out some of his own fury on that Lawrence football field.

In that 96-50 loss, Rody Lyon caught 7 passes for 209 yards. Three went for touchdowns, covering 30, 61 and 65 yards (the 65 yarder pulled Giltner withing 60-50, by he way), returned 4 kick-offs for 110 yards, made 15 tackles on defense, recovered a fumble and caused several Exedrin headaches with his solid, bone-jarring hits.

The thing I will never forget is that Rody Lyon NEVER gave up.

That’s the way it was all throughout the 2018 season for the lanky junior. Rody always came up big in big games. In a 76-40 loss to powerful Humphrey St. Francis, Lyons caught 18 passes for 246 yards and 2 TDs. Good Lord, who does that to HSF? He also had 8 tackles against the mighty Flyers in that loss..

I would take this lad on my team any day of the week if I were a coach. Rody Lyon has a motor than never, ever stops, has outstanding speed, simply loves the game of football and is full of that rich Giltner football tradition.

Great talent.

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