The Nebraska State Activities Association released its playoff brackets for prep football on Saturday. In the area, 20 teams advanced to play first round games on Thursday and Friday.
Classes C1, C2, D1 and D2 play Thursday and Classes A and B play on Friday.
St. Pat's, unbeaten at 8-0 for the regular season, is the highest seed in the area, getting a No. 3 seed in the Class C2 playoffs. Medicine Valley, also 8-0, is a No. 4 seed in Class D2 and Paxton, 6-2 on the season, is a No. 4 seed in Class D1.
Cozad, 6-2 for the regular season, is a No. 4 seed in Class C1.
Rematches highlight the first week of the prep playoffs.
Cozad will host Gothenburg on Thursday, a rematch from earlier this season and another in a long line of games between the two schools that are 10 miles apart. The Haymakers defeated the Swedes in Gothenburg 44-7 on Sept. 28. Gothenburg is a No. 13 seed and is 4-4 on the season.
In another C1 rematch, Valentine, the No. 5 seed, is 5-3 on the season and will host No. 12 seed Chadron, which is also 5-3. The two teams ended the regular season against one another last Friday, with Valentine winning 20-14 in overtime at Chadron.
In D1, Paxton will face Maxwell for the second time this year. The Tigers defeated the Wildcats, who are a No. 13 seed and 3-5 this year, 54-18 on Sept. 21.
In C2, No. 5 seed Perkins County, 7-1 on the season, will host Hershey, 4-4 and a No. 12 seed, in a rematch of their Sept. 14 game, which the Plainsmen won 14-7 in Hershey.
“They outplayed us,” Perkins County head coach Chip Kay said after that game. “We were lucky to come out of here with a win.”
St. Pat's, which has advanced to the state semifinals the past two seasons, opens the playoffs at home against No. 14 seed Centura, which is 4-4.
The Irish are stout on defense, having four shutouts and allowing just 38 points this season, an average of 4.75 points per game.
The fourth C2 area team to reach the playoffs is Cambridge, 3-5 on the season. The No. 16-seed Trojans will play top-seeded Sutton on Thursday.
In C1, Broken Bow is a No. 6 seed at 6-2. The Indians will host No. 11 seed Gibbon, also 6-2. Chase County, a No. 9 seed at 5-3, travels to play No. 8 seed Ord, which is also 5-3.
Ogallala, a No. 16 seed with a 2-6 record, travels to top-seeded Boone Central/Newman Grove, 7-1, to open the playoffs.
In D1, Stapleton-McPherson County is a No. 9 seed. The Cyclones are 6-2 on the season and will play at No. 8 seed Elm Creek on Thursday. Elm Creek is 7-1.
South Loup, a No. 12 seed at 3-5, will play at Arapahoe, the No. 5 seed. Arapahoe is unbeaten at 8-0.
The 8-0 Medicine Valley team opens the D2 playoffs hosting No. 13 seed Potter-Dix on Thursday. Potter-Dix is 5-3 on the season.
No. 9 seed Anselmo-Merna travels to No. 8 seed Leyton. Both teams are 6-2 on the season.
Wallace, 5-3, is the No. 12 seed in D2 and will travel to Oshkosh to take on Garden County, the No. 5 seed, which is 8-0 this year.
Mullen, at 5-3 and the No. 10 seed, travels to No. 7 seed Spalding/Spalding Academy, which is also 5-3 on the season.
The Cardinals of Hayes Center, the No. 14 seed at 4-4 on the year, will play at No. 3 seed Kenesaw, 7-1.
In the only Friday game involving area teams, McCook, the No. 7 seed, will host No. 10 seed Norris. Both teams are 7-2 on the season, but the Bison, who lost their first two games of the season, are on a seven-game winning streak.
In Class A, the only two teams not in the Lincoln or Omaha metropolitan areas to reach the playoffs are No. 3 seed Kearney and No. 16 seed Norfolk. Kearney, 8-1, will host Omaha Central, 5-4, on Friday, while Norfolk will play at top-seeded and 9-0 Millard North.