In Class A's preseason rankings, the only team missing from District 2 was Bellevue West.
But with Friday night's 27-13 home win against then-No. 3 Millard South, the Thunderbirds demonstrated that they need to be reckoned with, too.
West led 20-0 before Millard South scored, and the Thunderbirds sealed the win with a salty play — a touchdown pass on fourth-and-goal from the 21. New quarterback Brad Brazeal threw to one of his old position mates at wide receiver, junior C.J. Johnson, who jumped and wrestled the pass away from a Millard South defender in the end zone.
Shades of what used to happen at Bellevue West when Johnson's dad, Clester, was throwing to Erick Strickland during their All-Nebraska seasons in 1989 and 1990.
“This win shows we are here to play,” the younger Johnson said Friday night.
Bellevue West (2-0), which enters the Top 10 at No. 6, hadn't beaten a team that finished with a winning record in the past two years. This was the Thunderbirds' first win over a Millard team since edging Millard North 18-13 in 2009.
“We want to get where Millard South is as a program,” new coach Mike Huffman said, “and this is a great measuring stick for us.”
He's the school's third head coach in as many seasons. After the death last year of John Faiman, who coached at West for 26 years, Craig Moraski became interim coach. He stayed on staff when Bellevue West hired Huffman from Fort Calhoun, where the Pioneers last year reached the state quarterfinals with a school-record nine wins in 11-man football.
Two of Bellevue West's District 2 opponents are ahead of the Thunderbirds in the new Top 10. Omaha North is second and Omaha Burke fifth.
North is ranked where it finished last season after reaching the state final. Like last year, the Vikings have opened the season with blowout shutouts of Omaha Benson (48-0) and Omaha South (56-0) and will be strongly favored to go 3-0 with a win this week over Omaha Bryan (1-1) before finishing the season with six probable playoff teams.
New No. 3 Omaha Westside, which had been sixth prior to its 14-7 home win over then-No. 2 Omaha Creighton Prep, hosts Grand Island (2-0) on Friday. It's the highest ranking for the Warriors in Brett Froendt's five years as head coach.
Prep falls to fourth. Millard South drops to seventh, with Millard North, which fell to 0-2 after a 24-14 loss to No. 1 Millard West, sliding from fourth to eighth.
The shuffling caused Lincoln Southeast, a 38-0 winner over Lincoln High, to lose two spots to ninth. The reason is that Millard North played Millard West closer than Southeast did under similar conditions — losing its starting quarterback to injury.
Class B: Omaha Gross saw its 13-game winning streak end. The defending Class B champion lost 28-27 in overtime at Elkhorn in a 1-vs.-2 matchup. While the Antlers stay No. 1, Gross loses one rung, to third, in the rankings.
Gretna, a 51-13 winner at Blair, moves into second in time for this week's visit to 2012 runner-up Norris. The Titans will have Jakson Reetz available at quarterback after the Nebraska baseball recruit missed their first two games — which they split — while playing with the USA Baseball U18 national team.
Other classes: Class C-1 now has a 1-vs.-2 matchup on Friday night as preseason No. 1 Norfolk Catholic hosts new No. 2 Boone Central/Newman Grove. The Cardinals routed Pierce 48-7 to take the No. 2 ranking from the Bluejays, who tumble to seventh.
In Eight Man-2, Falls City Sacred Heart replaces returning state champion Giltner at No. 1. Giltner fell 20-16 to Eight Man-1 BDS, ending the Hornets' 13-game winning streak. They went scoreless after registering the game's first two touchdowns.
New to the ratings are Cozad and Wayne in C-1, Hershey in C-2, BDS and Freeman in Eight Man-1 and Wallace in Eight Man-2. Arcadia returns in Six-Man after a week's absence.
Long waits: Lightning storms in the Panhandle played havoc with some games Friday night, notably McCook's visit to Scottsbluff. Kickoff was pushed back 2½ hours to 9:30 p.m. Mountain Time. McCook scored late in the game for a 13-8 win. Play was suspended for 40 minutes during Gering's 27-26 home win at Chadron and an hour in North Platte St. Patrick's' 28-14 win at Bridgeport.