By Nathan Charles
The first week of Nebraska high school football kicked off Thursday with a pair of SBLive Top 25 matchups and continued Friday night with six more.
Despite its relative youth and inexperience, Bellevue West looks like it's returning to its championship pedigree.
On the back end of the rankings, Papillion-La Vista South is making a case for the top 20 after two road wins.
In Class B, Scottsbluff showed its mettle after a long road trip to Lincoln and appears to be the cream of the crop.
Class C-1 is shaping up to be a collision course for Aurora and Pierce.
No 1. Westside 24, No. 7 Creighton Prep 17
Westside scored the first 24 points then had to hang on in the fourth quarter when backup quarterback Sam Stessman came in and led a near comeback. Prep had the ball in the final two minutes but missed on a throw to the end zone. Warrior quarterback Anthony Rezac found Jaylen Lloyd (34 yards) and Caleb Benning (47 yards) for scores.
No 2. Elkhorn South 31, No. 8 Lincoln Southeast 20
Carson Rauner passed with flying colors in his first game under center for Elkhorn South, throwing for 230 yards and three touchdowns. The Storm took a halftime lead on a 25-yard field goal with 6 seconds left in the second quarter, then Rauner threw his third score on a 41-yard connection to Jackson Moeller Swan for a 10-point edge. The two teams traded scores before the Knights fumbled with under four minutes remaining in the game.
No. 3 Gretna 44, No. 12 Omaha Burke 0 (Thursday)
The Dragons needed quarterback Zane Flores for just 2 and 1/2 quarters in the season opener and built a 37-0 halftime lead en route to a convincing victory. Flores threw touchdown passes of 2, 3 and 76, and the defense produced six sacks and a pick-six. Flores was 12 of 17 for 163 yards. Senior Joe Roll caught six of those passes for 102 and two scores.
No. 4 Millard South 38, Millard West 14
The Patriots took unofficial control of Q Street by beating the rival Wildcats for a third year in a row. Millard South built a 24-7 halftime lead and rolled up 488 yards of total offense behind 321 passing and three scores by quarterback Cam Kozeal. Wide Receiver Austin Trotter caught five of those for 97 yards and a touchdown and picked off a pass on defense. The Patriots scored the first 14 points then the next 17 straight after the Wildcats cut it to 14-7 in the first quarter.
No. 6 Bellevue West 28, No. 5 Omaha North 26
Bell West hung on late and broke up a North two-point try for the win, earning the Thunderbirds their second straight win over a top-10 program and second on the road. Quarterback Danny Kaelin threw for 255 yards and two touchdowns while running back Gio Contreras has 176 yards and found the end zone twice. Teshaun Porter piled up 212 yards rushing on 26 carries and three touchdowns. The Vikings were unable to get the PAT off following Porter’s third score of the night and were forced into the conversion try late.
No. 9 Scottsbluff 26, Pius X 6
Scottsbluff embarked on what was essentially a 24-hour road trip and brought home the first dub of the season in an efficient, ground-and-pound performance. The Bearcats had less than 200 yards rushing but averaged 7.3 per carry on 27 attempts. Sebastien Boyle carried it 17 times for 129 and found the end zone twice.
No. 10 Elkhorn 21, No. 20 Waverly 17
A KJ Schenck touchdown run with 36 seconds remaining gave the Antlers the win after falling behind 10-0 in the first quarter. Elkhorn scored the next 14 and took the lead into halftime but trailed 17-14 in the fourth. The defense made a stop then gave the ball over to the offense at the Waverly 43 when the Vikings suffered a bad snap on a punt. The Antlers used seven straight runs on the game-winning drive.
No. 11 Aurora 43, Grand Island Northwest 13
Aurora got the season rolling on a blocked punt in the first possession and was off to the races. Drew Knust had a passing and rushing touchdown, and running back Carlos Collazo added a rushing score as part of a 29-7 halftime lead. Collazo added another running touchdown in the second half and hit Koby Nachtigal on a 69-yard halfback pass.
No. 13 York 14, Lexington 7 OT
Carter Stenger scored on York’s first overtime possession then Seth Erickson ended it with a fourth-down sack. Lexington scored first then stopped York twice in the red zone, once at the 2-yard line for a 7-0 halftime lead. The Minutemen made another red zone stop in the third quarter but allowed a 79-yard catch-and-run touchdown with 9:13 left in the game. York missed on a 26-yard field goal as time expired in regulation.
No. 14 Bennington 44, No. 18 Skutt 13
The Badgers said goodbye to several weapons but several remain for quarterback Trey Bird in his second season leading the Badger offense. One of those was running back Nick Colvert. The senior rushed for three touchdowns including a 67-yard scamper. Bennington scored 21 in the first quarter, 23 in the third and had touchdowns on six of eight drives during that span.
No. 15 Grand Island 20, North Platte 19
North Platte led 13-0 but failed on two fourth-downs late in the game while driving and looking for a game-winning field goal. Grand Island took the lead on its first two drives of the second half – Jace Chrisman runs of 18 and 50 yards. He regained the Islander lead with the final points on a 33-yard, answering a 50-yard run by North Platte’s Kolten Tilford.
No. 23. Kearney 14, No. 17 Lincoln East 6 (Thursday)
The Kearney defense held Malachi Coleman to just four catches and 61 yards, and the offense was just good enough to get a season-opening road win on Thursday night. Bearcat senior running back Ethan Kowalek went 69 yards for the game-winning score early in the fourth quarter then the defense recovered a fumble with 2:40 left to seal the victory.
No. 19 Pierce 38, Wahoo 7
Husker tight end recruit Ben Brahmer had another big game, catching nine passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns. But perhaps more impressive was quarterback Abe Scholting going 10 for 12 with 176 yards, three scores and 67 yards on the ground. Last year’s C-1 runners-up piled up nearly 400 yards of offense, picked off a pass and blocked two punts.
No. 21 Papillion-La Vista South 35, No. 23 Fremont 19
Scores on back-to-back Papio South drives in the third quarter improved Papio South to 2-0. A 34-yard touchdown pass on the Titans' first possession of the second half was followed by a mistake on the ensuing kickoff that put the Tigers on their own 9. That field position eventually set up Papio South with a punt return on the right side of the 50 and led to a 12-yard touchdown run and a 28-13 advantage.
Norfolk 38, No. 22 Columbus 7
The Panthers piled up 467 yards of total offense behind quarterback Kaden Ternus and a potent rushing attack. Ternus completed 67% of his throws for 249 yards and two touchdowns while the run game piled up 204 yards on 33 carries for an average of 6.2 per carry. Eight different Panthers carried the ball. Norfolk led 21-7 at the half then put it away with 10 fourth-quarter points.
Millard North 34, No. 25 Papillion-La Vista 31 OT
Neither side gained much separation from one another and, appropriately, needed more than 48 minutes. Evan Hansen scored his second touchdown of the game for the winner in the extra period. The defense forced a field goal when Papio had the ball first in OT then created the game-winner on its possession. Mustang quarterback Caden Vermaas found the end zone through the air and on the ground while running back Payton Prestito rushed for 127 and two touchdowns.