After winning two very different types of season openers, Grand Island Senior High and Lincoln Southwest meet up this week to see who gets off to a 2-0 start.
The Islanders piled up 440 yards of offense while rolling past Lincoln Northeast, 54-14.
The Silver Hawks used a 30-yard field goal by Ryan Lindahl with 1:56 left to knock off preseason No. 10 Lincoln North Star 15-13.
Now Southwest, which entered this week’s Class A rankings at No. 9, faces off against the Islanders in Friday’s 7 p.m. contest at Memorial Stadium.
With his team playing the night before the Silver Hawks, Grand Island coach Jeff Tomlin got to scout his upcoming opponent in person.
He left impressed.
"They’re a really sound football team," Tomlin said. "They’re well coached and very deep. They play a lot of kids, and there isn’t any drop-off. That’s impressive.
"They do a good job running the ball, which you expect. Fundamentally they’re sound on defense. They’re a typical Southwest football team."
The Silver Hawks will pose a much tougher challenge for the Islanders’ offense, which was led by Pierce Almond, who completed 19 of 23 passes for 277 yards and three touchdowns against Northeast.
"Obviously, our offense is built on making proper reads pre-snap and post-snap," Tomlin said. "We’ll need our quarterback to make good reads and get solid line play.
"We have to avoid turnovers. We did that for the most part against Northeast."
Grand Island’s defense will try to slow up the Silver Hawks ground game, which was led by Noah Lazaro’s 107 yards on 15 carries last week.
"Their play-action game is strong, too, but we have to stop the run," Tomlin said. "We’ve got to get good pursuit and tackling. We need to contain the quarterback on bootlegs.
"It’ll help if we can capitalize on errors – get a takeaway at key point."
While pleased with his team’s execution and effort in the opener, Tomlin said there are still areas that need to be improved for the Islanders’ second game.
"Fundamentally there are things we can polish up," he said. "Our line play was good, but we’re better than how we performed. We could get a more complete effort on the offensive line. We can block better on the perimeter with our receivers.
"Defensively we did a pretty good job of tackling, but that’s something that we are still working on."
Hastings (0-1) at Northwest (0-1)
Two young teams searching for an early-season confidence boost meet up Friday at 7 p.m. at Viking Field.
Last week Northwest surrendered 538 rushing yards to Sidney in a 44-22 loss. Christian Ellsworth passed for 145 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Vikings.
Hastings fell behind 26-0 at halftime en route to a 40-6 loss to Seward in coach Erik Emerson’s debut.
GICC (0-0) at Minden (0-0)
Will these teams repeat last year’s thriller in a 7 p.m. game in Minden?
Grand Island Central Catholic returns a wealth of experience from last year’s 7-3 team that only lost to Class C-1 semifinalists Adams Central and Boone Central/Newman Grove.
With 12 starters back, the Whippets appear poised to greatly improve on last year’s 2-7 mark. Four of those losses came by 13 points or less, including a 24-23 overtime loss to GICC.
Parkview Christian (1-0) at Heartland Lutheran (0-0)
Preston Gehle debuts as Heartland Lutheran’s head football coach in this game with a 7 p.m. kickoff.
The Red Hornets are looking to snap a 13-game losing streak.
Parkview Christian, which defeated Heartland Lutheran 80-20 last year, opened its season last week with a 64-24 win over Deshler.