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Everything you need to know about the Eight Man and Six Man state football championships

Everything you need to know about the Eight Man and Six Man state football championships


Eight Man-1

No. 1 Dundy County-Stratton (11-0) at No. 2 Burwell (12-0), 5 p.m.

When DCS has the ball: The Tigers are run-first, with senior Serbando Diaz at 1,862 yards and 29 touchdowns and junior QB Quade Myers at 1,177 with 17 scores. The latter is a 65% passer for 1,009 yards and 23 touchdowns against two interceptions. Sophomore Corbin Horner has 30 catches for 463 yards and 10 touchdowns. Burwell’s top tackler is junior Alex Gideon with 97 stops. Junior defensive back Cash Gurney has 83, junior Tyler Dawe 76 and senior Colton Dawe 75. Junior DB Dillon Critel has picked off seven passes.

When Burwell has the ball: It’s the Busch and Birch show. Junior RB Caleb Busch has rushed for 2,189 yards and 45 touchdowns and has scored 320 points. Senior passer Barak Birch spreads the ball among his receivers while collecting 1,351 yards and 22 touchdowns against only six interceptions. Gurney leads with seven touchdown catches and has 96 points on the year. DCS averages 2.5 takeaways a game. Senior Lincoln Waters leads with five picks. Top two tacklers are Diaz with 133 and senior Delton Haines with 108.

History lesson: Burwell defeated DCS 28-10 in the 2019 semifinals. The Longhorns are in their fifth final in six years, winning in 2016. DCS is in its first final.

Eight Man-2

No. 5 Sandhills/Thedford (12-0) at No. 1 BDS (11-0), 5 p.m. at Shickley

When Sandhills/Thedford has the ball: The Knights call on junior Dane Pokorny first. He’s rushed for 1,975 yards and 36 touchdowns, with junior Reece Zutavern next with 617 yards and 12 scores. Grant Ahlstrom, a senior, is 57 of 107 for 780 yards and 14 touchdowns that have been spread among four receivers. BDS has gotten 10 interceptions between seniors Dominic Philippi and Dalton Kleinschmidt. Senior Kyle Ardissono leads with 146 tackles, followed by sophomore Easton Weber (130) and Kleinschmidt (115).

When Bruning-Davenport/Shickley has the ball: Philippi is the playmaker, throwing for 860 yards and 16 touchdowns and running for 1,201 yards and 20 scores. Kleinschmidt has 856 yards rushing and 22 total touchdowns. Weber has 568 yards rushing. Sandhills/Thedford has 32 takeaways, with 10 defenders having two or more. Junior Parker Ballenger has eight sacks. Senior Reed McFadden (87) and junior Drew McIntosh (75) are the tackle leaders.

History lesson: BDS is playing for its third title in four finals dating to 2014. Sandhills/Thedford is in its first final.

Six Man

No. 2 Sterling (10-0) vs. No. 1 McCool Junction (10-0), 7 p.m. at UNK

When Sterling has the ball: Senior Sam Boldt is a 1,000-yard rusher and a dangerous kick returner, as evidenced by his two kickoff-return scores in a wild 60-58 semifinal win over Arthur County. Fellow senior Derek Buss is a perfect complement to Boldt. Sterling could be without its only other senior, Kaleb Masur, who was treated at a North Platte hospital for a lower-leg injury in the semifinal. Gage Rhodes has a team-high 78 tackles for McCool, followed by 60 apiece for Owen McDonald and Kaeden Bristol. Freshman Ryland Garretson has six picks and two fumble recoveries, with junior Chase Wilkinson having four and four.

When McCool Junction has the ball: Sometimes the Mustangs don’t even get on the field. McDonald has scored on five kickoff returns, included in his overall total of 48 touchdowns. The senior’s rushed for 1,636 yards and averages 14.7 yards a carry. McCool’s passer, senior Jonah Barrow, has seen eight of his 23 completions get to the end zone. Cody-Kilgore played McCool tough in its 30-12 semifinal loss, only allowing 181 yards. Sterling’s defense hadn’t allowed an opponent more than 20 points until last week, and then gave up a Six Man playoff-record nine touchdowns to Arthur County’s Alex Worthing while the Wolves gained 570 yards.

History lesson: McCool lost to Harvard in last year’s final. The Mustangs opened the 2018 playoffs with a 48-8 win over Sterling, the first year for both in six man. Sterling won Eight Man-2 crowns in 1991 and 1992.

Nebraska high school state football champions since 2004

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Reporter - High school sports

Stu is The World-Herald's lead writer for high school sports and for golf. Follow him on Twitter @stuOWH. Phone: 402-444-1041.

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