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Pospisil: Lincoln Southeast scores three TDs in first 14 minutes in win over Grand Island
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Pospisil: Lincoln Southeast scores three TDs in first 14 minutes in win over Grand Island

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LINCOLN — A defense that has yet to give up two touchdowns in a game has Lincoln Southeast bidding to be in the lead pack in Class A.

In Thursday night’s 35-10 win over Grand Island, the Top 10 No. 6 Knights forced three turnovers in the first quarter — getting Jake Appleget’s fumble recovery and interceptions by Derek Branch and Max Buettenback — for a quick 21-0 lead before 668 sitting in the mist at Seacrest Field.

“Our defense has been there for us all year," Southeast coach Ryan Gottula said. “We saw that Week 1, the way they turned Kearney back there at the end of the game when we had to.

“And we really like how our offense has come along the last couple weeks, getting some plays in the passing game and running the ball in the second half here tonight.”

Southeast has been moving people around on defense while holding its first three opponents to 25 points. Appleget said he’s gone from outside linebacker to inside linebacker and Branch from cornerback to safety.

“We knew coming into this game it was going to be a defensive game for us," Appleget said. “(Grand Island) is one of the better teams we’ve played, very well coached, and we knew they were going to be picking us apart a little bit with their offense, so we came in preparing really well.”

He’s a 6-foot-4, 210-pound wide receiver who caught four passes for 57 yards. After Appleget lost two touchdown catches in last week’s 35-5 win over rival Lincoln Southwest on penalties (he eventually scored), Southeast senior quarterback McGinness Schneider hooked up with him for touchdown plays of 19 and 13 yards in the first 14 minutes against the Islanders.

“Our corner had pretty good coverage on him," Islanders coach Jeff Tomlin said. “He just went up and made plays.”

Two more Southeast touchdowns came from Nigel Bridger, a senior running back who transferred from Crete. It was a breakout game for the 5-9, 190-pounder with 21 carries for 174 yards. His totals from the first two games were 17 carries for 42 yards.

“I thought he was decisive,” Gottula said. “He’s a good back. I think he’s a different runner Week 3 than Week 1. With Max Buettenback and Nathaniel Gifford (who scored Southeast’s second touchdown), it’s nice to have a number of backs who can carry the ball for us.”

The No. 7 Islanders (1-1) started the season late — they were in team quarantine for COVID-19 exposure when the rest of the state opened workouts Aug. 10 and didn’t begin theirs until Aug. 20 — and moved their opening game with Kearney to the end of the regular season.

“We’re still trying to determine an identity, and I will never use (the delay) as an excuse. It is what it is. We’re trying to focus forward," Tomlin said. “We used different starters tonight than we did last week just to try to figure out our lineup.

“But, boy, I’m really proud of our kids. They’re battlers and whatever challenge they’ve had during this whole thing, they’ve overcome it. They come with a great attitude every day.”

Grand Island (1-1).......0    7   3  0—10

At Lincoln SE (3-0).....14  14  0  7—35

LSE: Jake Appleget 19 pass from McGinness Schneider (Nate McCashland kick)

LSE: Nathaniel Gifford 1 run (McCashland kick)

LSE: Jake Appleget 19 pass from McGinness Schneider (Nate McCashland kick)

GI: Augustin Atikpohou 36 pass from Jaden Jurgensmier (Braxton Mendez kick)

LSE: Nigel Bridger 36 run (McCashland kick)

GI: FG Mendez 22

LSE: Bridger 10 run (McCashland kick)

A: 668

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Rushing: GI, Ayden McDermott 4-45, Kytan Fyfe 5-28, Daylon Keolavone 3-9, Ariel Hernandez 7-42, Jace Chrisman 5-21. LSE, Bridger 21-174, Schneider 11-65, Branch 2-11, Gifford 2-6, Taveon Thompson 1-1, Buettenback 9-1, Conner Wilken 3-minus 2.

Passing: GI, Jacobsmier 12-29-2 137. LSE, Schneider 5-8-0 65, Willem Reddick 1-1-0 4.

Receiving: GI,.Atikpohou 3-73, Kamden Aden 2-18, Chrisman 1-14, Hernandez 1-7, Fyfe 2-21, Brandon Fox 1-4, Dylan Sextro 1-1, Keolavone 1-minus 1. LSE, Appleget 4-57, Thompson 1-8, Buettenback 1-4.

Five games to follow

Top 10 No. 2 Millard South (2-0) vs. No. 5 Millard West (1-1), 7 p.m. at Buell Stadium: The way the revised schedule worked out, this is the last game of a round-robin among the three Millard schools and Elkhorn South. Millard West held out first-week starting quarterback Jacob Jones in a 21-14 win over Millard North after he was dinged up in the 30-28 loss to Elkhorn South. Radio: KOTK (1420, 94.5, Omaha).

Top 10 No. 3 Bellevue West (1-0) at North Platte (2-0), 6 p.m.: North Platte accepted this test — and Bellevue West gladly will take the eight-hour round trip — after both lost opponents this week to COVID-19 quarantines. After this, the host Bulldogs will know how good their running game is. Radio: KOOQ (98.1, 1410, North Platte).

Class B No. 6 Bennington (2-0) at No. 2 Norris (2-0), 7 p.m.: Bennington’s passing game hasn’t dropped off under new coach Kameron Lenhart and new quarterback Kale Bird. Those tall receivers and tight ends Norris has also start on defense.

Class C-1 No. 9 St. Paul (1-1) at No. 2 Kearney Catholic (2-0), 7 p.m.: The visiting Wildcats should be the best opponent to date for NU commit Heinrich Haarberg and Kearney Catholic. Radio: KRGI (96.5, Grand Island), KKPR (98.9, Kearney), KVSS (102.7, Omaha).

Eight Man-1 No. 3 Howells-Dodge (2-0) vs. No. 4 Cross County (3-0), 7 p.m. at Stromsburg: A nice matchup of ground-and-pound teams, with Issac Noyd and Carter Seim for the hosts and Levi Belina for the Jaguars.

On-campus games

Centennial Conference schools Grand Island Central Catholic and Lincoln Lutheran are playing their first games on campus Friday.

GICC (0-2) hosts Class C-2 No. 9 Centennial (1-1) at 5 p.m. The Crusaders then will have portable lights for their final three home games. They chose not to rent nearby renovated Memorial Stadium after the Grand Island Public Schools decided not to allow visiting fans for any game in its stadium.

Lincoln Lutheran (1-1) hosts Class C-2 No. 4 Fremont Bergan (2-0) at 7 p.m. When all other options fell through for Lutheran — Nebraska Wesleyan’s stadium is closed off to outside groups this fall — the school is bringing in lights, bleachers and a scoreboard to pull off this game.

Sidelined again

Tommy McEvoy’s senior football season is likely over at Clarkson/Leigh.

The running back with an offer from South Dakota State tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on his second carry last week against Elmwood-Murdock while making a cut. This was to be McEvoy’s comeback year — he had torn the ACL in his right knee before the start of preseason workouts and missed his junior year in his three sports.

As a sophomore, he ran for 1,708 yards and 30 touchdowns for the Patriots. Healthy again, he was expected to take Clarkson/Leigh deep into the Eight Man-1 playoffs.

His story as it stands recalls what happened to the Huskers’ Bobby Reynolds 70 years ago — a sensation as a sophomore and frustrated by injuries the next two years. The difference is McEvoy still has his college career ahead — and I hope that can happen.


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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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