Everything you need to know about the Nebraska high school state football semifinal matchups, as compiled by The World-Herald's Stu Pospisil. All games are Friday, Nov. 13.
Selections by Stu Pospisil in bold (Last week, 21 right, 7 wrong, .750; season, 916-228, .801).
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No. 8 Kearney (5-4) vs. No. 4 Elkhorn South (9-1), 6 p.m. at Elkhorn Stadium: Elkhorn South beat the Bearcats 28-21 in overtime Oct. 15. The Storm were generous, setting up Kearney twice with poor punt snaps. Preston Pearson (15 TD passes in nine games) led the Bearcats to last week’s 41-40 overtime upset of top seed Bellevue West. Elkhorn South runs its offense by committee behind QB Dilan Krause.
TV: NCN South (Cox 116). Radio: KKPR (98.9, Kearney). Stu’s pick: Elkhorn South.
No. 3 Millard South (8-1) at No. 1 Omaha Westside (10-0), 7 p.m.: Had there been a Week 9 in Class A, these teams would have met then. It’s now a winner-take-all game between dealers Cole Payton of Westside and TJ Urban of Millard South. The hunch is we’ll see both at times move to receiver while Kolby Brown of Westside and the Patriots’ Gage Stenger give different looks at quarterback. Millard South must find ways to get past Westside’s secondary while its defense tries to take away Payton (1,385 yards passing, 827 rushing) and Dom Rezac (1,127 rushing).
Radio: KOBM (1420, 94.5, Omaha). Stu’s pick: Westside.
No. 6 Plattsmouth (8-2) at No. 8 Aurora (8-3), 7 p.m.: Plattsmouth hasn’t been to the state final since 1979. The Blue Devils’ only playoff game against Aurora was a 34-28 first-round loss in 2013. Plattsmouth’s Christian Meneses is averaging 166 yards rushing with 19 touchdowns. Aurora, winner of eight of its past nine, must beware of the Blue Devils’ effective Statue of Liberty kickoff returns. Mack Owens scored the Huskies’ four touchdowns in last week’s win over Norris.
Radio: KNCY (1600, 105.5, Nebraska City), KRGY (97.3, Aurora). Stu’s pick: Aurora.
No. 4 Elkhorn (9-2) at No. 3 Hastings (9-1), 7 p.m. at Hastings College: First-ever meeting. Hastings is in its first semifinal since 2000 and hasn’t been to the final since winning Class B in 1994. Elkhorn missed the playoffs the past two years while in Class A. It’s bidding for a Class B-record 11th championship game appearance. Elkhorn’s offense is averaging 380 yards per game with Grant Gutschow (1,506 yards passing), Aiden Young (1,230 rushing) and Gannon Gragert (570 receiving). Hastings is averaging 411 per game, mostly from Jarrett Synek’s 2,641 yards passing and 574 rushing. Carson Shoemaker has 52 catches for 909 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Radio: KHAS (1230, Hastings). Stu’s pick: Elkhorn.
No. 4 Kearney Catholic (9-1) at No. 5 Adams Central (9-2), 7 p.m.: The Stars beat Adams Central 33-22 at home on Oct. 9. The Patriots’ only semifinal win was in 1993 when it was Class B runner-up to McCook. Kearney Catholic is in its third semifinal since its 2011 Class C-2 runner-up team. Adams Central can’t overkey on NU pledge Heinrich Haarberg’s receivers when RB Cale Conrad ran for 133 yards against it the first time and had a 200-yard game against Auburn in the quarterfinals. Big question is whether 1,500-yard rusher Hyatt Collins plays for Adams Central after missing last week’s win over then-undefeated Ashland-Greenwood.
Radio: KICS (1550, Hastings), KXPN (1460, Kearney), KVSS (102.7, Omaha). Stu’s pick: Kearney Catholic.
No. 3 St. Paul (10-1) at No. 1 Pierce (10-0), 6 p.m.: In their season opener, the Bluejays spotted St. Paul a 14-0 lead before winning 55-38. The teams are 1-1 in playoff games against each other. St. Paul has never been in a state final. Pierce was there last year and is after a chance for its fourth title. St. Paul’s Eli Larson needs 15 yards to rush for 2,000 this season and has scored 33 TDs. Pierce sophomores Abram Scholting (1,358 passing) and Ben Brahmer (636 receiving) complement a rushing game led by Tyler Race (857 rush).
TV: NCN North. Radio: KRGI (96.5, Grand Island), KEXL (97.5, Norfolk), KLIQ (94.5, Hastings), KKOT (93.5, Columbus). Stu’s pick: Pierce.
No. 5 Yutan (9-1) at No. 2 Fremont Bergan (11-0), 7 p.m.: Neither team has lost since Bergan beat the Chieftains 41-13 Aug. 28. It’s their first playoff meeting. Bergan’s Koa McIntyre has thrown for 1,857 yards, spreading it around, and rushed for 1,080. Yutan’s Brady Timm has thrown for 1,206 yards and is No. 2 in rushing at 746, trailing only Caden Egr (913).
Radio: KHUB (1340, 98.9, Fremont). Stu’s pick: Bergan.
No. 3 Oakland-Craig (10-1) at No. 1 Ord (10-0), 6 p.m.: C-2’s defending champion is playing the host Chanticleers for the first time. The Knights’ Coulter Thiele has scored on 12 of his 47 carries, averaging 16.6 yards per tote. Ord’s Tommy Stevens has rushed for 1,337 yards and 25 TDs and the Chants’ Kelan Meyer has a seasonlong 58-yard field goal.
Radio: KTIC (107.9, West Point), KNLV (1060, 93.9, Ord), KQKX (106.7, Norfolk). Stu’s pick: Oakland-Craig.
No. 1 Dundy County-Stratton (10-0) at No. 4 Tri County (10-0), 6 p.m.: It’s Tri County’s first semifinal since 1987. DCS was in one last year, losing to Burwell 28-10. Tri County must contain the two-headed DCS rushing monster of Serbando Diaz and QB Quade Myers. Ditto on the other side, with Tri County sporting 1,000-yard rushers Jack Holsing and QB Cole Siems.
Radio: KIOD (105.3, McCook), KWBE (1450, Beatrice). Stu’s pick: DCS.
No. 2 Burwell (11-0) at No. 3 Cross County (11-0), 6 p.m.: First meeting between the schools. Both were in the semifinals last year and both saw Osceola/High Plains end their seasons. Both are run-first offenses. Caleb Busch of Burwell has 2,075 yards and 43 TDs while Cross County is poised to have the state’s first pair of 2,000-yarders (Isaac Noyd at 2,065 and Carter Seim at 1,935).
Radio: KBRX (102.9, O’Neill), KLIR (101.1, Columbus), KOOL (95.9, 1370, York). Stu’s pick: Burwell.
No. 3 Falls City Sacred Heart (9-1) at No. 5 Sandhills/Thedford (11-0), 5 p.m. at Dunning: The host Knights are in the semifinal for the first time since 2016. Sacred Heart has been this far seven times in nine years. Jakob Jordan has thrown for 1,321 yards and has more than 600 yards rushing for the Irish. Dane Pokorny has 1,666 yards and 31 touchdowns on the ground for Sandhills/Thedford.
Radio: KTNC (1230, 107.1, Falls City), KBBN (95.3, Broken Bow), KBRY (92.3, Sargent). Stu’s pick: Sacred Heart.
No. 6 Central Valley (9-0) at No. 1 BDS (10-0), 5:30 p.m. at Bruning: Teams meet for the first time. BDS is trying for its fourth final appearance in seven years. Ty Nekoliczak has accounted for 32 touchdowns for Central Valley. Dominic Philippi runs the BDS attack.
Radio: KTKX (104.9, York), KUTT (99.5, Fairbury), KZEN (100.3, Central City). Stu’s pick: BDS.
No. 2 Sterling (9-0) at No. 5 Arthur County (8-2), 1:30 MT: It’s Sterling’s deepest playoff advancement since ruling Eight Man-1 in 1991 and 1992. Arthur County has two official NSAA playoff titles. Arthur’s Bryce Hanna has 30 touchdown passes and Alex Worthing 23 touchdown runs. Derek Buss paced Sterling’s quarterfinal win with 174 yards and two touchdowns rushing.
Stu’s pick: Sterling.
No. 1 McCool Junction (10-0) at No. 6 Cody-Kilgore (6-2), 1 p.m.: Rematch of last year’s semifinal that McCool won 40-28. Owen McDonald has 1,480 yards and 37 touchdowns rushing for McCool. Peyton Sterkel of Cody-Kilgore has 986 and 15 touchdowns on the ground.
Stu’s pick: McCool.