Time erodes even the best of memories. For those who play high school sports, the games blur into one another. Individual plays and players fade.
But the stories of Scott Frost, high school legend, still live for many of the athletes and coaches who faced him on the football field during a dominant four-year run at Wood River High School.
Competing in the days before the state's prep football teams were divided into districts, Frost and Wood River ran roughshod over the LouPlatte Conference. In Frost's final three years, the Eagles went 24-3 in regular-season games as Frost set Class C-1 state records for total offense, most yards in a season, yards per game average, total career touchdowns and career touchdown passes.
In an era when the majority of the state's teams followed Nebraska's template of I-formation, ground-based football, Frost, coached by his father Larry and mother Carol, was a maestro in Wood River's split-back veer system.
"He was a challenge to prepare for, to slow down," long-time Hastings Adams Central coach Bill Carlin said. "And one of the better athletes I've coached against."
Carlin saw plenty in his 24 years as the head coach at Adams Central, winning 191 games and going to the state playoffs 20 times.
He saw Frost four times, and went 3-1 against him. Wood River won just one conference title in Frost's four years, mainly because of the Patriots.
"We were fortunate to go 3-1 against him in his four years," Carlin said. "I think a lot of people would take that."
Adams Central relied on its Maryland I offense to keep the ball away from Frost and Wood River's potent offense. On defense, the Patriots often committed two players solely to spying on Frost.
"Every play you were worried about getting the ball out of their hands," Carlin said. "Our thing was, we were going to control the ball with our offense and keep it out of their hands. That was our best defense."
Most teams were defenseless. The Eagles averaged 50 points a game Frost's senior year. Already with a talented cast of athletes, one of the nation's premier college recruits put Wood River in rare air.
"Of course we got rolled," said Jeremy Hemphill, who was a senior at conference foe Ravenna when Frost was a junior. "But what stands out to me was the fact he made the game look effortless, even in high school."
The Bluejays finished 0-4 against Frost, with an average score of about 51-10. No shame in that. Ravenna was far from the only team without much of a shot against Frost and the Eagles.
Wood River went 33-11 in Frost's four years, 29-6 over his final three. Three of the losses came deep in the Class C-1 state playoffs, to some of Nebraska's greatest small-school programs: 1990 C-1 state champion Geneva, 1991 C-1 state runner-up Battle Creek and again to the Braves in 1992 as Battle Creek rolled to a C-1 state title.
But man, were the highs high.
There was the playoff game against Albion in 1990, Frost's sophomore season, when the then 15-year-old scored three touchdowns and blocked a punt in an eight-minute stretch as Wood River came from 26-7 down to win 35-26.
There was the game at Burwell in 1991 when Frost, who made his NFL career on the defensive side of the ball, picked off a Longhorn pass and took it 105 yards the other way for a score and a state record that still stands.
And of course there was the time in 1992, when Frost was among the nation's most sought-after recruits, and ESPN cameras made their way to Wood River for a game against Kearney Catholic to film Frost and his family for a feature on the program "Scholastic Sports America."
In the days before social media and high school games being broadcast on live TV, there perhaps no bigger event in central Nebraska that fall.
"They didn't just film any ol' high school game in those days," said Chad Kotrous, who was on that Kearney Catholic team. "And they crushed us."
Kotrous, who played defensive tackle for the Stars, remembers one play in particular from the game. He chased Frost toward the sideline as Frost prepared to throw. The ball was gone before Kotrous could make the tackle.
"I bet he threw that ball 40 yards in the air, on the run. He tapped me on the helmet and smiled," Kotrous remembered. "Kind of like, 'You'll get the next one.'"
Wood River won that game 54-6 as part of an 11-1 season. For Kotrous and his teammates, the final score was only a small part of the experience of going against a once-in-a-generation talent.
"We were to take it like any other game. But how do you tell a bunch of boys that they were going to be on TV and take it like any other game?" Kotrous said. "Riding the bus to the game, we were pretty giddy. But we also knew the excitement wasn't for us or about us.
"Scholastic Sports America was there for one person and one person only ... Even after all the things he's done and what he's about to do for our state, it's surreal to think I was a small part of it. It's my little connection to Husker football, which is what every kid growing up in Nebraska wants."