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The defending champions

Wilcox-Hildreth, 12-0 last season, lost two all-staters to graduation, most notably running back A.J. Jenkins, who was the player of the year in the class. The Falcons, however, do bring back junior all-stater Lane Lieb, who’s ready to assume more of the load this fall.

Class-by-class breakdownsClass A  |  Class B  |  Class C-1  |  Class C-2  |  Class D-1  |  Class D-2  |  Six-man

Other teams to watch

(In alphabetical order)

Preseason ratings run Aug. 23

Harvard (10-1, D-6 state semifinals, No. 2 final ranking): Three starters return, led by all-state linebacker Noah Okraska and RB David Reazola, the state six-man leading returning rusher from last year with 1,719 yards.

Hay Springs (11-1, D-6 state runner-up, No. 3 finals ranking): The Hawks lose all-state running back Trent Reed, but bring back standout senior RB/LB Bryce Running Hawk (932 all-purpose yards last season, 147 tackles) and starting senior QB/OLB Baiden Planasky (88 tackles).

Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family (6-2, No. 8 final ranking): Three starters return on both offense and defense, a group led by senior Bryce Classen, junior Zach Pfeifer and 6-3 sophomores Jason and Jacob Sjuts.

McCool Junction (8-2, D-6 state quarterfinals, No. 4 final ranking): A trio of returning starters — senior Dana Hobbs and juniors Owen McDonald and Kaden Kirkpatrick (6-4, 240) — make the Mustangs a state contender.

Minatare (9-2, D-6 state semifinals, No. 5 final ranking): Four starters are back on each side of the ball, and Indians have one of the best linemen in six-man in senior Isaac Gomez (5-10, 225).

Returning all-staters

RB/DB Lane Lieb, Wilcox-Hildreth, 5-10, 160, jr.: Replacing A.J. Jenkins’ 2,752 yards rushing and 46 TDs will not be an easy task, but Lieb is one who will help fill the void. He’s a proven defensive player with 80 tackles, three interceptions and five fumble recoveries.

QB/LB Noah Okraska, Harvard, 6-0, 175, sr.: The all-state linebacker had 87 tackles last season with three sacks, four interceptions and three fumble recoveries. As the quarterback, he passed for 1,060 yards and ran for 558 more.

Key games

A30: Spalding Academy at Harvard.

S6: Humphrey/LHF at McCool Junction.

S13: Harvard at Silver Lake, Minatare at Cody-Kilgore.

S27: Cody-Kilgore at Hay Springs, Spalding Academy at Humphrey/LHF.

O4: Hays Springs at Minatare.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7437 or rpowell@journalstar.com. On Twitter @ronpowell_ljs.

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