The 2020 Nebraska School Activities Association football playoffs, featuring 136 Nebraska high school football teams battling for six titles, began last weekend.
Nebraska football has five commits from the class of 2021 that will be competing in the state football playoffs on Friday. Here are the players and teams to watch for:
James Carnie, TE, Norris
Norris tight end James Carnie is Nebraska football’s most recent commit, committing on Oct. 12. The three-star recruit and the No. 4 Norris Titans will look for their eighth win of the season against No. 13 Beatrice (4-5) on Friday night.
Carnie had 28 receptions for 460 yards and eight touchdowns during the regular season. He added nine tackles for loss, eight sacks and two forced fumbles at defensive end. The 6-foot-5 220-pound tight end beats defenders by using his speed and, for those who can keep up, his height to win jump balls.
Norris (7-2) lost to the No. 6 Waverly Vikings in the district finals 24-0 last Friday. Norris struggled on offense against the Vikings, throwing for 205 yards and rushing for -2. Its defense, who gave up 304 total yards (206 rushing) to Waverly, needs to protect against the run much better to survive in a very competitive Class B playoffs.
Norris hosts the Beatrice Orangemen at 7 p.m. on Friday night.
Heinrich Haarberg, QB, Kearney Catholic:
Quarterback Heinrich Haarberg is gearing up for No. 4 Kearney Catholic’s first game of the Class C-1 playoffs on Friday night. The Stars (7-1) play the No. 13 Chadron Cardinals (6-2) after shutting out the Cozad Haymakers 31-0 in their district final game. Haarberg led his team to a district title by going 12-of-26 for 213 passing yards, 49 rushing yards and three touchdown passes.
Haarberg became the first in-state QB to commit to Nebraska since 2003 on May 9, a mere five days after receiving his offer. The three-star recruit totaled 1,446 passing yards, 435 rushing yards, 21 total touchdowns and three interceptions during the 2020 regular season.
Standing at 6-foot-5, the dual-threat quarterback is able to look over his offensive line to see the entire field to make more informed decisions with the ball, whether that be a pass or a run.
Haarberg and KCHS, which has outscored its opponents 296-82, host Chadron on Friday at 2 p.m.
A.J. Rollins, TE, Creighton Prep:
Tight end A.J. Rollins and No. 6 Creighton Prep play No. 11 Millard North in the second round of the Class A playoffs after having a bye last week. The Millard North Mustangs beat the No. 22 Norfolk Panthers 52-6 last Friday to move to the second round.
In his last game against the Papillion LaVista South Titans, Rollins logged four receptions for 55 yards and one touchdown. The Junior Jays rolled over the Titans to a 28-6 victory. Rollins, a three-star recruit, will join Nebraska’s tight end group along with Carnie and four-star tight end Thomas Fidone from Lewis Central in Council Bluffs.
Creighton Prep hosts Millard North at Omaha Westside High School at 8 p.m. on Friday night.
Koby Bretz, S, Omaha Westside:
Safety Koby Bretz is looking to help the No. 2 Omaha Westside Warriors (8-0) to a second-round victory over the No. 15 Grand Island Islanders in their first game of the playoffs. Last weekend the Islanders (4-4) dominated No.18 Lincoln Pius X 36-0 to advance to the second round of the Class A playoffs.
Bretz, at 6-foot-2 and 185-pounds, has recorded 30 tackles, one interception and one forced fumble in eight games this season. Westside has been nothing short of dominant, steamrolling opponents on both ends of the ball. The Warriors have yet to score less than 42 points in a game this season.
The Warriors enter the Class A playoffs as one of the favorites to win the championship and Bretz, along with senior teammate and Minnesota commit Avante Dickerson, are trying to lead Westside to the championship game for the second consecutive year. Last season, Bellevue West blanked the Warriors 35-0 in a snowy Memorial Stadium. The two are potentially on a collision course again in 2020, as Bellevue West is the No. 1 seed in Class A.
On Friday night, Grand Island will travel to Westside for a 4 p.m. kickoff.
Teddy Prochazka, OT, Elkhorn South:
The No. 5 Elkhorn South Storm and offensive tackle Teddy Prochazka face the No. 12 Fremont Tigers (6-3) in the second round of the Class A playoffs. In the first round of the playoffs, Fremont earned 503 total yards to beat No. 21 Papillion LaVista South 48-28 to set up Friday’s matchup.
The 6-foot-8, 280-pound Prochazka will add more depth and talent to Nebraska’s offensive line, one of the most improved units on the team under the tenure of head coach Scott Frost. The four-star recruit committed to Nebraska his junior year and has remained strong in his decision.
Elkhorn South beat the No. 9 Kearney Bearcats in its last regular-season game 28-21 in overtime. Behind Prochazka, the offense earned 267 rushing yards and 101 receiving yards.
The Storm will welcome Fremont to Elkhorn Stadium for an 8 p.m. kickoff.