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Nebraska high school football playoff matchups, picks (10/24/2023)

An overview of each class for this week's playoffs
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High school football fans across the state this Friday will watch replays of many high-level matchups occurring during the regular season. In Class A’s eight opening-round games, six are rematches. In Class B’s eight opening-round matchups, five are rematches. Now, it’s simply just letting it unfold and seeing if it's the same, or different, outcome. Either way, expect a lot of excitement. 

Class A matchups

No. 1 Omaha Westside (9-0) vs. No. 16 Creighton Prep (4-5)

No. 9 Bellevue West (6-3) vs. No. 8 Papillion-La Vista (8-1)

No. 5 Millard West (7-2) vs No. 12 Millard North (4-5)

No. 13 Grand Island (5-4) vs. No. 4 Kearney (8-1)

No. 3 Elkhorn South (8-1) vs. No. 14 Papillion-La Vista South (5-4)

No. 11 Lincoln East (6-3) vs. No. 6 Lincoln Southeast (6-3)

No. 7 Gretna (7-2) vs. No. 10 Omaha North (7-2)

No. 15 Lincoln North Star (5-4) vs. No. 2 Millard South (8-1)

Our opening-round picks

Omaha Westside, Bellevue West, Millard West, Kearney, Elkhorn South, Lincoln East, Omaha North, Millard South.

Nebraska’s Largest class is filled with more Division 1 talent than it has been in decades, and it certainly will be on display. All roads seemingly lead to Omaha Westside in the state championship game, that’s really the only place we see them really being pushed.

Class B matchups

No. 1 Bennington (9-0) vs. No. 16 Crete (5-4)

No. 9 Norris (6-3) vs. No. 8 Grand Island Northwest (5-4)

No. 5 Elkhorn North (8-1) vs. No. 12 Elkhorn High (4-5)

No. 13 Scottsbluff (5-4) vs. No. 4 York (7-2)

No. 3 Skutt Catholic (8-1) vs. No. 14 Gross Catholic (4-5)

No. 11 Blair (5-4) vs. No. 6 Plattsmouth (7-2)

No. 7 Seward (6-3) vs No. 10 Hastings (6-3)

No. 15 Ralston (4-5) vs. No. 2 Waverly (9-0)

Our opening round picks

Bennington, Norris, Elkhorn North, York, Skutt Catholic, Plattsmouth, Seward, Waverly

Bennington is looking for a three-peat state championship. There were questions surrounding this team after losing some star-studded talent, but they’ve responded superbly to every challenge thrown at them this year. Other teams to keep an eye on this week are Elkhorn North and Skutt Catholic.

Class C1 matchups

No. 1 Wahoo (9-0) vs. No. 16 Scotus Central Catholic (5-4)

No. 9 Douglas County West (7-2) vs No. 8 Broken Bow (6-3)

No. 5 Pierce (7-2) vs. No. 12 Roncalli Catholic (7-2)

No 13 Gothenburg (6-3) vs. No. 4 Sidney (8-1)

No. 3 Ashland Greenwood (8-1) vs. No. 14 Chadron (6-3)

No. 11 Aurora (6-3) vs. No. 6 Adams Central (8-1)

No. 7 Auburn (7-2) vs. No 10 Ogallala (7-2)

No. 15 Columbus Lakeview (5-4) vs. No. 2 Boone Central (9-0)

Our opening-round picks

Wahoo, Douglas County West, Pierce, Sidney, Ashland Greenwood, Aurora, Auburn, Boone Central.

Pierce is the defending Class C1 state champion, but they will have their work cut out for them in playoffs if they want to repeat. Wahoo and Boone Central both come in with unblemished records, and both look the part. Perennial power Aurora is also down a bit this year, though we pick them to upset Adams Central in the opening round.

Class C2 matchups

No. 1 Norfolk Catholic (9-0) vs. No. 16 Aquinas Catholic (5-4)

No. 9 Battle Creek (8-1) vs. No. 8 Kearney Catholic (7-2)

No. 5 Malcolm (8-1) vs. No. 12 Chase County (7-2)

No. 13 Wilber-Clatonia (6-3) vs. No. 4 Fillmore Central (9-0)

No 3. Ord (7-2) vs. No. 14 Cedar Catholic (5-4)

No. 11 Bishop Neumann (7-2) vs. No. 6 Mitchell (7-2)

No. 7 Hastings St. Cecilia (7-2) vs. No. 10 Yutan (7-2)

No. 15 Amherst (5-4) vs. No. 2 Oakland-Craig (8-1)

Our opening-round picks

Norfolk Catholic, Kearney Catholic, Malcolm, Fillmore Central, Ord, Bishop Neumann, Hastings St. Cecilia, Oakland-Craig.

Norfolk Catholic is looking to win back-to-back state titles. That should start by taking care of Aquinas Catholic. There’s a lot of pretty balanced matchups in the opening round of C2 playoffs – real 50/50 matchups. Expect a lot of run-heavy football in the early stages of this lineup.

Class D1 matchups

No. 1 Stanton (8-0) vs. No. 16 Summerland (3-5)

No. 9 Ravenna (8-0) vs. No. 8 Arapahoe (7-1)

No. 5 Sandy Creek (8-0) vs. No. 12 Weeping Water (6-2)

No. 13 Perkins County (6-2) vs. No. 4 Cross County (8-0)

No. 3 Crofton (8-0) vs. No 14. Bridgeport (6-2)

No. 11 Elkhorn Valley (6-2) vs. No. 6 Plainview (8-0)

No. 7 EMF (7-1) vs. No. 10 Shelby-Rising City (7-1)

No. 15 Clarkson/Leigh (5-3) vs. No. 2 North Platte St. Patrick’s (8-0)

Our opening round picks

Stanton, Ravenna, Sandy Creek, Cross County, Crofton, Plainview, Shelby-Rising City, North Platte St. Patrick’s

Clarkson/Leigh is the defending state championship, but the going has been a little rocky this year. We don’t see them getting out of the opening round this year. Expect North Platte St. Patrick's to play with a chip on its shoulder; it’s looking for redemption after falling in semis last season.

Class D2 matchups

No. 1 Johnson-Brock (8-0) vs. No. 16 Anselmo-Mema (4-4)

No. 9 Lourdes Central Catholic (7-1) vs No. 8 Sandhills/Thedford (7-1)

No. 5 Central Valley (8-0) vs No. 12 BDS (6-2)

No. 13 Lawrence-Nelson (6-2) vs. No. 4 South Loup (8-0)

No. 3 Dundy County Stratton (8-0) vs. No 14 Twin Loup (5-3)

No. 11 Howells-Dodge (6-2) vs. No. 6 Ainsworth (8-0)

No. 7 Humphrey St. Francis (7-1) vs. No. 10 Axtell (6-2)

No. 15 Mullen (5-3) vs. No. 2 Wynot (8-0)

Our opening-round picks

Johnson-Brock, Lourdes Central Catholic, Central Valley, South Loup, Dundy County Stratton, Ainsworth, Humphrey St. Francis, Wynot

With last year’s Class D2 champion Hitchcock County not in the picture this season, there will be a new crowned champion. There's five unbeatens in the opening round, all of which we have moving on to quarterfinals. The player to watch will be Ainsworth’s Carter Nelson. The Nebraska commit is a complete and total mismatch at the tight end position. Even being double-teamed, he will get his touches.

Class D6-matchups

No. 1 Sumner-Eddyville-Miller (8-0) vs. No. 16 Paxton (4-4)

No. 9 Stuart (6-2) vs. No. 8 Southwest (6-2)

No. 5 Wilcox-Hildreth (7-1) vs. No. 12 Garden County (5-3)

No. 13 Sioux County (5-3) vs. No. 4 Pawnee City (8-0)

No. 3 Potter-Dix (8-0) vs. No. 14 Red Cloud (4-4)

No. 11 Cody-Kilgore (5-3) vs. No. 6 Parkview Christian (6-2)

No. 7 Hay Springs (5-3) vs. No 10 Hampton (6-2)

No. 15 Shelton (4-4) vs. No. 2 Arthur County (8-0)

Our opening-round picks

Sumner-Eddyville-Miller, Southwest, Wilcox-Hildreth, Pawnee City, Potter-Dix, Parkview Christian, Hay Springs, Arthur County

Defending champion Parkview Christian comes in as a No. 6 seed, and will face an uphill battle in an effort to reclaim their crown. Sumner-Eddyville-Miller, Pawnee City, and Arthur County all look the part. We like the defending champs to get through the opening round, but their season will likely end after that.

--Sam Pimper