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FOOTBALL

Central City quarterback Kale Jensen hopes to boost North's offense at Shrine Bowl

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KEARNEY, Neb. — Going back a few years, the Shrine Bowl had a motto of “Strong legs run so weak legs can walk.”

A widening of procedures available at Shrine Children’s Hospitals have made the second half of the motto outdated. The first part, however, has more staying power.

Central City’s Kale Jensen would like to add strong arms to strong legs. One of Nebraska’s most prolific passers, Jensen is competing for playing time at quarterback for the North team in this year’s game that kicks off at 6 p.m. Saturday at Cope Stadium on the campus of the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

The game brings together some of the top talent from the recently graduated senior class and has seldom showcased strong-armed quarterbacks.

What’s in store for a prolific passer like Jensen? He doesn’t know yet.

“You never really know what to prepare for in these type of games because it’s players from all over and from all kinds of systems,” Jensen said.

Jensen is in a three-way battle with Grand Island’s Kytan Fyfe and Grand Island Northwest’s Sam Hartman.

“They all bring something a little bit different to the table," North coach Tim Johnk of Omaha Creighton Prep said.

Jensen

“You never really know what to prepare for in these type of games because it’s players from all over and from all kinds of systems,” Kale Jensen said.

He described Fyfe as a dual-threat quarterback while Hartman is athletic.

“In our evaluation, those were the guys who really stood out for us,” he said.

Jensen comes into the game with eye-popping passing numbers.

In nine games his senior season, he completed 222 of 394 passes for 2,548 yards. He averaged nearly 25 completions per game and threw 23 touchdowns.

As a junior, he averaged a Class C-1 state-record 337 yards per game and set a single-game record with 45 completions.

“We had a really good game plan going into each game and our head coach did a really good job of drawing up plays for that specific defense and finding some really open pass routes for whatever they were playing. That helped a lot,” Jensen said.

The offense he’ll be running Saturday will be much different. It’s much more run-oriented but Jensen said even though he’s only been through a couple practices, that he’s “getting the hang of it.”

While more run-oriented, Johnk said there’s room for the passing game.

“We’ve got some stuff in for our guys who can throw the football. We’ve got enough where he will be able to highlight his abilities,” Johnk said.

When making player selections, the coaches emphasized finding a quarterback of Jensen’s abilities to balance the team’s offense.

“We knew we wanted to be able to throw the ball a little bit. ... You’re going to have to. But at the end of the day, our running backs are really, really good on this football team,” he said.

The North roster lists eight running backs, not counting two fullbacks. Sorting out that rotation ranks as a priority equal to the quarterback assignments.

Players reported for practices on Sunday, giving them six days to prepare for Saturday’s game — barely enough time to learn their teammates’ names.

“It’s been really fun so far meeting a new team, hanging with the guys,” Jensen said.

This fall, Jensen will fall in with a new team as he plans to play baseball for North Dakota State. Jensen was a pitcher-infielder for the Central City/Fullerton/Centura team that finished fourth in the Class B state tournament.

“Baseball, ever since I was little, has kind of been what I loved,” Jensen said. “Ever since T-ball, baseball has kind of been my thing.”

That makes Saturday’s game extra special for him.

“Biggest thing for me, since I know it is my last football game ever, I want to go out there, have fun and go out on a good note,” Jensen said.

Roster breakdown

The All-Nebraska players in the game are Fyfe, Dylan Mostek of Bennington, Mick Huber of Gretna for the North and Henry Rickels of Bellevue West, Gage Griffith of Aurora, Trevor Brown of Waverly and Will Hubert of Papillion-La Vista for the South.

North: R.J. Bayer, Howells-Dodge; Rylan Birkby, St. Paul; Jarett Boggs, Fremont Bergan; Logan Booth, Logan View/Scribner-Snyder; Caleb Busch, Burwell; Brayden Chaney, Mick Huber, Gretna; Isaiah Daniell, Gavin Kube, Yutan; Johnathan DeRiso, Ord; Raoul Djidjoho, Elkhorn Mount Michael; Dawson Dunbar, Chadron; Kamden Dusatko, Stanton; Josh Fee, Elkhorn South; Colton Fritz, Pierce; Kytan Fyfe, Grand Island; Sam Hartman, Grand Island Northwest; Orlando Hernandez, Omaha North; Will Hubert, Papillion-La Vista; Kale Jensen, Central City; Ryan Kearney, Jack Kirkwood, Omaha Creighton Prep; Carson Lavaley, Wahoo; Mason Limbach, Drew Sellon, Fremont; Daylin Mallory, Norfolk; Nate McCoy, Omaha Roncalli; Dylan Mostek, Jake Stier, Bennington; Wyatt Ogle, Blair; Eli Osten, Adam Van Cleave, Columbus Lakeview; Gage Racek, Ord; Henry Rickels, Jayden Roberts, Bellevue West; Trevor Schwartz, Chance Symons, Scottsbluff; Kase Thompson, Battle Creek; Blake Thompson, Columbus; Carson Thomsen, Oakland Craig; Rowdy Truska, David City Aquinas. Added since February: Devon Borchers, Columbus Scotus; Parker Krusemark, Stanton. Withdrew: Alec Cook, Omaha Burke; Koy Wilke, Elkhorn South; Vince Genatone, North Platte; Luke Lindenmeyer, Papillion-La Vista; Brennen Kelley, Norfolk Catholic.

South: Owen Anthony, Jake Leader, Lincoln Southwest; Jay Ballard, Boys Town; Luke Blatchford, Lincoln Southeast; Joe Brinker, Omaha Skutt; Trevor Brown, Riley Marsh, Waverly; Julian Castillo, James Frank, Lincoln Pius X; Tommy Connelly, Omaha Westside; Kale Consbruck, Norris; Tyson Denkert, Kenesaw; Hayden Fjell, Eliott Steinhoft, Platteview; Dylan Gray, Gavin Wilbur, Lincoln Northeast; Gage Griffith, Aurora; Clyde Hinton, Austin Sohl, Plattsmouth; Cory Hollinger, Cross County; Marley Jensen, York; Caleb Jones, Elliot Jurgens, Beatrice; Isaac Kracl, Crete; Rashad Madden, Ralston; Jake Masker, Kearney Catholic; Quade Myers, Dundy County-Stratton; Christian Nash, Millard South; Nathan Pederson, Millard West; Nathan Renner, McCook; Joshua Shaw, Sandy Creek; Evan Shepard, Ashland-Greenwood; Carter Sitzman, Lincoln Christian; Billie Stephenson, Lincoln East; Seth Stutzman, Milford; Andrew Waltke, Palmyra; Taylor Wieczorek, Lincoln High; Parker Wise, Kearney. Added since February: Matthew Davis, Sutton; Grant Guyett, Westside; Jacob Weatherly, Cozad; Brogan Nachtigal, Falls City Sacred Heart; JaReese Lott-Buzby, Lincoln High. Withdrew: Jackson Chandler, Omaha Skutt; Dominic Rezac, Omaha Westside; Cooper Hausmann, Norris; Tony Murray, Boys Town; Tony Failla, Millard West; Jack L’Heureux, Lincoln Lutheran; Trevor Ruth, Seward; Noah Walters, Lincoln East.

— Stu Pospisil, The World-Herald

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