Last fall, Nebraska Christian put together one of its most successful football seasons by going 9-1.
So it is fitting that the Eagles will be well-represented in Saturday’s Sertoma 8-Man Classic.
Head coach Carl Ostrand is an assistant on the East team, where two of the players are recent Nebraska Christian graduates Jake Twogood and Noah Boersen.
“It’s a great experience to work with the staff and some of the best players in the state,” Ostrand said. “It’s a fun week and very enjoyable.”
And having two Eagles there makes it even better.
“That’s even more special,” Ostrand said. “You want to coach these kids as long as you can. Everything comes to an end, but to get one more game is special. They’re great kids, and they’ve worked hard for a lot of years, so it’s special to see them rewarded with an all-star game.
“They’ve been hard workers for years and were a big part of our success last fall, so it’s a nice reward for them as players to play one more time in a high school game.”
Twogood also feels that having familiar faces on the East squad adds to the experience.
“It’s a blessing,” said the 5-foot-11, 170-pounder. “It’s just really an honor and a lot of fun getting out here to play some football one last time with my teammate and also a bunch of new guys.
“It’s a lot of fun, especially with my head coach one of the coaches. It’s some familiarity along with a lot of newness.”
Twogood is playing linebacker while Boersen (5-10, 160) is seeing reps at safety and some outside linebacker.
Boersen said having his coach on the staff has helped make a smooth transition.
“It helps a lot because we’re running some of the stuff we run at our place,” he said. “Having another teammate on defense with me to have that familiarity of what we know and what we do best helps a lot.
“Coach Ostrand is also a great guy and I’m a friend with Jake, so it’s been a lot of fun.”
Boersen was added to the East after the initial roster was released after a player had to drop out.
“It kind of means the world to me,” he said. “I really like football, and to have one more chance to put the pads on and hit some guys has been fun. Meeting a bunch of new guys has been fun for me.
“It was about a month, a month-and-a-half before school got out. Coach Ostrand said they wanted me to be part of the team, so I had to get my sponsors in.”
Boersen said the East defense is ready to be challenged by the West.
“They have a quarterback and a running back who are very good, so (coaches) have emphasized the cutback lanes,” he said. “It sounds like they’re a pretty fast team, so we have to set the edge and kind of shut things down on the run game.
“When it comes to passing, we have to go up and compete. They have some good guys. That Burwell kid (Josh Urbanovsky) is pretty good, so we’re going to have to compete with them.”
Twogood said: “We’re taking guys that know what they’re doing, put them at their position and then give them the tools that they need. Hopefully we’ll go from there and then make plays.”
Ostrand is mainly working on the offense along with East head coach Ryan Haughton of Fullerton with a focus on the offensive line.
He said that terminology is one of the biggest challenges about getting ready for an all-star game.
“A lot of us understand what we want to accomplish, but we have different terminology,” Ostrand said. “For a lot of the players and coaches, it’s like learning a new language in a week. But the kids are really sharp, so they catch on really fast.”
Another challenge is developing team chemistry with less than a week to prepare.
“I think our strengths are cohesion, getting along well and enjoying being around each other,” Ostrand said. “A lot of times in an all-star game that’s the intangible because everybody is big and fast and talented. But they really seem to be getting along well.”
The Eagles hope to get one more win after a season full of them, something that was a bit of a surprise after going 2-6 the previous year.
Twogood had 91 tackles while rushing for 1,463 yards with 26 touchdowns as a senior.
Boersen averaged 26.4 yards on 18 kickoff returns and had 62 tackles.
“That was a lot of fun,” Twogood said of last season. “It was kind of a surprise. I didn’t know what to expect coming into the year but with the guys we had, I think we just had a really good bond.
“As it came together, it was really fun to see our team work together and just get stuff done.”
Boersen said: “It was kind of an out-of-the-blue type of thing. We tried to do the best we could and we made the most of it.”
And is there motivation to win in an all-star setting?
“They’re competitors,” Ostrand said. “They’re athletes. They’ve played at a high level at their high schools. They play their game to play at a high level.
“We want to play well and hopefully that translates into a win.”