Leading up to the Nebraska high school football season, NEPrepZone.com will be looking at the top teams in each class, based on last season’s final rankings. Class B takes the stage this week, with a new post each day. Let us know in the comments how you think each team will finish, as well as the players you’ll be watching.
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CLASS B NO. 4 BEATRICE
Coach: Bob Sexton, 11th season
Last season: Lost in state quarterfinals to Aurora 27-19
Returning starters: OC Corey Jordan (Sr.), OG Nathan Rains (Jr.), OT Tyler Parthemer (Jr.), LB Clayton Welch (Sr.), LB Jessup Workman (Jr.), FS Dakota Buss (Sr.)
Zach Decker, QB/K/P: The do-everything quarterback made his biggest mark on special teams as an all-state punter and the Orangemans’ kicker.
Dakota Vanlaningham, RB: The all-state back — who had a 267-yard day against Blair last season — fueled a strong Beatrice running game last season.
KEY RETURNING PLAYERS
Jordan, Rains, Parthemer: The big boys on the offensive line will be the key and strength — at least early in the season — of the team this season. Jordan, a senior, will be starting his third year at center with the other 480 pounds of juniors Rains and Parthemer filling out guard and tackle positions.
Transfer: Alec Cromer, QB, Fairbury. The 6-foot-5 transfer quarterback will contend with last year’s JV starter, Hunter Zarybnicky, for the starting position. Cromer made some catches with Fairbury last season and was a key contributor on the Jeffs’ basketball team.
KEY POSITION CHANGES
Dylan Behrends, FB: The 215-pound senior moves to fullback with his No. 64 jersey. Coach Sexton says it made sense because “he’s the most physical guy on the team.”
The Orangemen must develop a quarterback but again will be a force on the ground with Workman replacing Vanlaningham as the featured back. Workman ran for more than 800 yards as a sophomore last season and could contend for a lot more this year behind a strong, sizable offensive line. The physical junior is a north-south runner that warrants kind words from Sexton. “Jessup could be as good as any player I’ve coached.”
Seniors Clayton Welch and Dakota Buss will lead the defense a long with Workman. Welch got better as the season went on last year and has worked his way back from a wrestling injury to be back in his linebacker spot. Buss, a safety, had six interceptions to lead the team last season and should be in contention for all-state mention this campaign. Behrends will again wreak havoc at nose guard.
GAME TO WATCH
At No. 9 York, Sept. 13
Crete, Norris, Seward
“We need to get settled on a quarterback and create an identity, like we did last year, on offense. Depth will also be a concern, but if we stay healthy we’re going to be competitive every week.”
Aug. 30, at Elkhorn South
Sept. 6, Bennington
Sept. 13, at York
Sept. 20, at Blair
Sept. 27, Hastings
Oct. 4, Ralston
Oct. 11, Norris
Oct. 18, at Seward
Oct. 25, Crete
– Grant Egger
To see previous entries from this series, go to NEPrepZone.com/prep-previews.