Week One Friday Night Lights Football Heroes - Part 1

QB Evan Johnson (L) and wide receiver Leif Spady (R) are just two of the reasons the Patriots upended Class C-1 defending champion and pre-season #1 Aurora last Friday.

I’ve been waiting 9 and a half months to get back into my Friday Night Heroes. A ton of research is involved, some subscriptions to some papers around the state, but it is so worth it to honor the players who make this game of high school football so great.

As I always say, “feels like being in Heaven!”

*Tyler Slechta, Evan Johnson, Leif Spady, Gabe Conant-Adams Central - Better split this baby 4 ways, although Evan Johnson was running the show on offense. The four year starting QB completed 22 of 35 passes for 224 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the Patriots 24-8 victory over pre-season #1 and defending Class C-1 champion Aurora Huskies.

And how about junior Tyler Slechta (#8), son of Adams Central assistant basketball coach Tough Tommy Slechta? All Tyler did was account for 18 of Adams Central’s 24 total points. The 6-1, 170 pound do-it-all guy caught both touchdown passes from Johnson, covering 11 and 32 yards. The TD strikes came only 2:18 seconds apart in the Patriots 21 point second quarter outburst.

Slechta ended the evening with 8 catches for 98 yards, the two TD receptions, booted 3 extra points, connected for a 22 yard field goal and...hold on….sailed 6 out of his 7 kickoffs out of the end zone for touchbacks. In statistics talk, that’s 414 yards worth of kickoffs for an average of 59.1 yards a boot.

Wide receiver Leif Spady (#13), who had 1,183 career receiving yards entering 2019, led all receivers with 9 catches, good for 90 yards. Those receptions did not come easy either, with Aurora ace Caleb Moural shadowing him all night.

And finally, two time 1000 yard rusher Gabe Conant (#24) ground out 105 tough yards on 18 carries, threw a 20 yard TD pass to Micah Gengenbach on a bit of trickery, and made 5 stops on defense (4 solos).

I want to also mention 6-0, 170 pound junior LB Slade Smith (#7) and his 15 tackles, 11 of which were solos. I also saw an all-state type performance from 6-3, 215 pound OL/DL Max Granstrom (#69), who was a crisp blocker on offense and a man who recorded 8 stops on defense with 2 TFL.

*Xavier Betts, Jay Ducker, Nate Glantz, Cruz Jurado-Bellevue West - Thunderbirds brought some thunder and lightning to Lincoln High and proceeded to spank the Links 63-6 last Friday to open a special 2019 season.

Northern Illinois recruit Jay Ducker ran for 138 yards on just 13 carries with touchdown runs of 6, 8, 47 and 9 yards. Ducker set the tone for the route with a 41 yard gain on the very first play from scrimmage.

Xavier Betts turned in his usual outstanding performance, catching four Nate Glantz aerials for 134 yards (33.5/catch) and touchdown receptions of 46 and 44 yards. Speaking of Nate Glantz, the 6-1, 185 pound transfer from Millard West was sharp in his debut for Bellevue West, completing 16 of 26 passes for 309 yards and 3 TDs. Glantz also ran for 33 yards 4 carries to keep the Links defense honest.

Place kicker Cruz Jurado was a perfect 7 for 7 on extra point kicks and nearly matched that statistic by booting 6 of his 7 kickoffs into the endzone for touchbacks.

*Jacob Krul and Sebastian Harsh-Scottsbluff - RB Krul and QB Harsh combined to rush for 348 yards and 6 touchdowns as Scottsbluff rallied to beat North Platte 42-21. In a game delayed by lightning for over an hour, the Bearcats had to shake the Bulldogs, who had battled to tie the game a 21 apiece at halftime.

Krul, a 5-9, 185 junior, cut loose for 214 yards on 20 totes and scoring runs of 10, 19 and 54 yards. He also returned a NP kickoff 45 yards to give the Bluffs good field position at the time. Sebastian Harsh, a 2018 All-State defensive end, rushed 10 times for 134 yards and scoring dashes of 6, 9 and 24 yards in the game.

Harsh also blasted 6 of his 7 kick-offs out of the endzone for touchbacks and made 8 tackles on defense.

If you are thinking maybe Jacob Krul is an overnight success…..not so. Last year Krul rushed for 578 yards and 10 TDs despite having Chris Busby (1,543 yards) in the same backfield.

*St. Paul Defensive Line, Eli Larson-St. Paul - The ‘Cats defensive front Fearsome Foursome of #70 Nathan Scheer (6-0, 250, Jr.), big #71 Caleb Pederson (6-4, 337, Jr.), #82 Lucas Vogel (6-4, 205, Jr.) and the “runt” of the group #50 Gunnar Nyberg (6-1, 180, Jr.), helped hold Class C-1 pre-season rated #7 Central City to a minus 17 yards on 28 rushes in St. Paul’s 34-13 win over the Bison.

Eli Larson, another junior and returning 1,367 yard rusher, punished Central City with his 224 yards on 20 carries performance. The 6-1, 210 pound speedster scored three times in the game with touchdown runs of 59, 3 and 80 yards.

The Wildcats are currently rated #3 in the latest Omaha World-Herald ratings and have the talent to make a solid run at Lincoln this season with their unreal junior class.

*Tyler Palmer-Columbus Scotus - Husker baseball recruit did it all in the Shamrocks 27-19 win over pre-season #1 pick (Class C-2) David City Aquinas. The dual-threat Palmer ran for 146 yards on 20 touches and completed 6 of 14 passes for 96 yards and two more TDs. Eric Mustard added 145 yards on 24 carries as the ‘Rocks rallied in the 2nd half to defeat Aquinas in the 62nd meeting between the two old rivals.

*Jed Christensen-Platteview - Explosive 6-1, 205 pound running back ripped Lincoln Christian for 222 yards on 27 carries and TD runs of 2 and 7 yards in the Trojans nail-biting 30-29 double overtime win over the Crusaders. Christensen, who gained 814 yards in 2018, also had 10 tackles in the game.

Tobias Nixon scored the winning touchdown for Platteview in that 2nd OT and chipped in 76 yards on 15 totes for the Trojans. 6-1, 201 pound senior linebacker Tanner Millikan led all tacklers for Platteview with15 crunches.

*Aiden Oerter-Norris - Talk about efficiency, the 6-2, 185 Norris quarterback opened his 2019 season by hitting 13 of his 17 passes for a fat 271 yards and a 57 yard TD toss to 1000 yard rusher Ashton Hausmann in the Titans 26-21 win over an improved Beatrice team. Oerter, who also had a 1 yard TD run in the game, threw for 1,085 yards a year ago for Norris.

*Jarrett Synek, Tiger Defense-Hastings - 5-11, 185 pound junior quarterback led Charlie Shoemaker’s Tigers to one of the biggest Class B shockers in years when Hastings drubbed Mcook 30-7 last Friday. Synek completed 21 of his 31 passes for 321 yards and a pair of touchdowns while the Tiger “D” was throttling the mighty Bison offense.

Synek opened the scoring with a 1 yard touchdown run of his own before throwing TD tosses of 46 yards to speedy Carson Shoemaker (Charlie’s son) in the 2nd quarter and a 3rd stanza 38 yarder to Braden Kalvelage.Six different receivers caught aerials from Jarrett in the game and they were; Carson Shoemaker (7 catches-121 yards), Kalvelage (5-67), Austin Nauert (2-55), Gareth Jones (2-41), Nate Norby (3-32) and Landon Jacobus (2-5). All are juniors except Norby.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, the stifling Hastings defense was holding McCook to 160 total yards, 60 of those coming on a Sterling Wright TD run in the last stages of the game. 17 different Tiger defenders recorded tackles with 16 of those 17 making at least one solo stop.

The 30 points by Hastings against McCook marked the first time the Tigers have scored a point against the Bison since losing 39-20 in 2015. This margin of victory by the way, is a 71 point turnaround from last season’s 41-0 loss in Hastings.

*Quade Young-Twin Loup - 5-10, 205 pound junior completed 7 of 10 passes for 183 yards and 3 touchdowns, rushed for 137 yards on 21 carries and 2 more scores and made a whopping 23 tackles on defense, as Twin Loup doubled the score on Anselmo-Merna (44-22) in a Thursday night win.

Lathyn Collins caught a pair of Young’s scoring passes (10, 37 yards), while Bryce Lamb grabbed the other (10 yards). Young compiled 320 total yards on the night for Mike Kozeal’s Wolverines.

*Noah Stoeckle, Joey Braasch, CJ Fleeman-Columbus - Stoeckle broke through to block a 38 yard Norfolk field goal attempt in overtime, preserving a victory as the Discoverers nudged the Panthers 27-24 in a season opening rivalry matchup.

Joey Braasch rushed for 149 yards in the win and 6-3, 185 pound junior QB CJ Fleeman completed 12 of 21 passes for 169 yards and a TD. Camden Thompson caught half of Fleeman’s pass completions, good for 87 yards.

*Tristan Gomes, Ethan Valencia-Millard West - Gomes, the 6-5, 195 pound Cal-State Fullerton baseball recruit, scored all four Millard West touchdowns in the Wildcats 30-7 win over Millard North. Gomes hit paydirt from 6, 3, 14 and 32 yards out, the last two coming in the 4th quarter.

Gomes rushed 10 times for 101 yards in the game, but Ethan Valencia did much of the ground damage to Millard North with his inside pounding 157 yards on 26 carries. Valencia’s longest gain of the night was a 6 yard smash up the gut.

*Caden Egr-Yutan - 5-11, 190 pound junior nearly equalled his entire sophomore season rushing totals in Yutan’s 29-14 win over Freeman. Egr ran the ball 38 times for 197 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Chieftains victory. Egr also had 4 tackles and an interception on defense.

Last season, Caden ran 56 times for 253 yards and 4 TDs in 8 games for 3-6 Yutan. Looks to me like Mr. Egr plans on crushing his 2018 stat sheet this season.


….coming up next, Week One Friday Night Night Football Heroes - Part 2

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