KEARNEY, Neb. — Hunter Push came this week to shove defenders around at the Shrine Bowl.
Chris Graham is glad to get the rust off.
They’re two of the five all-stars from the Omaha Public Schools in Saturday’s 6 p.m. game at UNK who didn’t get a chance to play football last fall — unlike the other schools in the state.
To put the pads back on after nearly two years was “amazing,” Push said.
“I’m not going to lie. I’m pretty sore right now," the Omaha North guard said before a Thursday afternoon practice. “But it felt really good. I missed it a lot.”
Graham, who’s from Omaha Burke, will be the other starting guard for the North team.
“I definitely got back into the swing of things really quick. I got the rust off after maybe two or three practices,” Graham said. “Hitting. There’s one thing I definitely missed a lot.”
On the South team, OPS is represented by lineman Kaedyn Reynolds and defensive back Ashad Wills from Central and lineman Fabian Reid from Bryan.
“Those are kids that probably aren’t familiar in the football world right now just because they didn't get to play last year," said Platteview’s Mark McLaughlin, the South’s coach.
He marvels at how fast his team bonded, blending players across the board from Classes A to Eight Man-2.
“They’re besties already," McLaughlin said. “The kids who are here, offensive and defensive, they remember why they’re here and that was our one team rule, remember why you’re here.”
North Dakota State-bound Cole Payton from Omaha Westside, because TJ Urban from Millard South was a late withdrawal, will get most of the snaps at quarterback for the South.
Other South players headed to Division I schools this fall: Cade Haberman from Westside (Northern Illinois), Sam Scott from Omaha Skutt (Wyoming) and walk-ons Maddox Burton and Taveon Thompson from Lincoln Southeast (both NU), Weston Reiman from Weeping Water (NU) and Barret Liebentritt from Skutt (Notre Dame).
Push is going to South Dakota. Others on the North team heading to D-I are Nolan Gorczyca from Omaha Roncalli (Buffalo) and walk-ons Kelen Meyer from Ord and Carson Rohde from Sumner-Eddyville-Miller (both NU).
Columbus Lakeview’s Kurt Frenzen, the North coach, said he’ll utilize run-pass threat Kale Bird from Bennington and Millard North runner Jimmy Quaintance at quarterback. Tommy Stevens from Ord and Rylan Aguallo from Mitchell are “a couple of big-time backs, that we feel like they are anyway," he said.
Defensive lineman Isaac Montgomery from Lincoln High “has flown under the radar a little bit, but has a lot in his toolbox," Frenzen said. Dex Larson from Blair and Jack McDonnell from Bellevue West are standing out at linebacker.
The South’s McLaughlin said Ayden King from Doniphan-Trumbull is among the Class B and C players “we think will have a big day.” Lane Zimmerman from Ashland-Greenwood, like King, is part of the receiving corps.
2, Trey Kobza, Columbus. 4, Zane Schawang, Waverly. 6, Dex Larsen, Blair. 8, Eli Crnkovich, Mount Michael. 10, Kale Bird, Bennington. 12, Shea Gossett, Fremont Bergan. 14, Trevor Marshall, Gretna. 16, Tyler LeClair, Bennington. 18, Jack McDonnell, Bellevue West. 20, Victor Kniesche, Wayne. 22, Jimmy Quaintance, Millard North. 24, Sutton Pohlman, Stanton. 26, Jesus Barragan, West Point-Beemer. 28, Rylan Aguallo, Mitchell. 30, Kyle Napier, David City Aquinas. 32, Reid Korth, Wayne. 34, Daylon Keolavone, Grand Island. 36, Cody Wright, North Platte. 38, Justin Erb, Wakefield. 40, Tommy Stevens, Ord. 42, Cooper Taylor, Elkhorn South. 44, Gannon Gragert, Elkhorn. 46, Austen Smith, Columbus LV. 48, Paxton Smith, Rock County. 50, Shawn Rinkel, Pierce. 52, Eric Lenz, Central City. 54, Michael Brands, Oakland Craig. 56, Isaac Montgomery, Lincoln High. 58, Nolan Gorczyca, Omaha Roncalli. 60, Arian Garcia, Gretna. 62, Jake Seip, Lincoln North Star. 64, Kekoa Chai, Bellevue West. 66, Zeph Sivels, Millard North. 68, Chris Graham Jr., Omaha Burke. 70, Tony Mokeac, Scottsbluff. 72, Nick Maag, Scottsbluff. 74, Michael Maxon, Grand Island. 76, Wyatt Marr, Lincoln Lutheran. 78, Hunter Push, Omaha North. 80, Tanner Schneiderheinz, Central City. 82, Kelen Meyer, Ord. 84, Parker Janky, Grand Island NW. 88, Alex Davies, North Platte SP. 90, Isaiah Guerue, Morrill. 92, Carson Rohde, Sumner-EM.
Coach: Kurt Frenzen, Columbus Lakeview. Assistants: Jeff Bargen, Lakeview; Judson Hall, Scottsbluff; Mike Kayl, Gretna; Wade McVey, Bellevue West; Russ Plager, Wayne.
1, Grant Springer, Lincoln East. 3, Carson Shoemaker, Hastings. 5, Christian Rystrom, Cross County. 7, Slade Smith, Adams Central. 9, Cole Payton, Omaha Westside. 11, Brady Collingham, Aurora. 13, Cale Conrad, Kearney Catholic. 15, Grant Miller, Lincoln SW. 17, Brandon Beeson, Tri-County. 19, Taveon Thompson, Lincoln SE. 21, Ashad Wills, Omaha Central. 23, DeKendrick McCray, Lincoln East. 25, Jameson Herzberg, Aurora. 27, Kyle Sterup, Osceola. 29, Barret Liebentritt, Omaha Skutt. 31, Sean Hampton, Gibbon. 33, Sam Scott, Omaha Skutt. 35, Tyler Slechta, Adams Central. 37, Trent Brehm, Papio South. 39, Dylan Meyer, Norris. 41, Brody Darnell, Auburn. 43, Del Casteel, Falls City SH. 45, Alec Langan, McCook. 47, Jack Johnson, Kearney. 49, Burton Brandt, Syracuse. 51, Cade Haberman, Westside. 53, Fabian Reid, Omaha Bryan. 55, Gabe Van Winkle, Kearney. 57, Nick Beel, Milford. 59, Josh Free, Lincoln Christian. 61, Kaedyn Reynolds, Omaha Central. 63, Weston Reiman, Weeping Water. 65, Preston Welch, Bellevue East. 71, Joseph Hinrichs, Sutton. 73, Delton Haines, DC-Stratton. 75, Jack Nickolisen, Millard South. 77, Kayden Wallis-Collier, Platteview. 81, Ayden King, Doniphan-Trumbull. 83, Nolan Meyers, Arapahoe. 85, Lane Zimmerman, Ashland-GW. 87, Carter Bose, Southern Valley. 89, Adam Eggert, Plattsmouth. 93, Maddox Burton, Lincoln SE. 95, Quin Hale, York. 99, Logan O'Brien, Kearney Catholic.
Coach: Mark McLaughlin, Platteview. Assistants: Jordan Bald, Platteview; Tim Clemenger, Papillion-La Vista South; Tony Janssen, Auburn; Dustin Kronhofman, Arapahoe; Jeff Montgomery, Gibbon.