Lincoln, NE - The defending state champion Lincoln Southeast Knights didn't waste any time showing they would be a force again this season, downing Millard West 28-21 last Friday night at Seacrest Field in Lincoln.
The Knights were led by senior returning quarterback Najee Jackson, who went 6-for-14, throwing for 137 yards and two touchdowns – in the process showing nice poise and a strong arm.
“Now that we got the first one out of the way, we can get it going. The first one is always the hardest,” said Jackson, who combined for over 3,000 yards on the ground and air in 2011. “You really don't know what you have, going up just against your teammates. This was the first time we had an opportunity to go up against someone and run our plays and I think we now know what we need to work on.”
Southeast scored on three turnovers by Millard West, twice in the first quarter, to take a 13-0 lead early.
“We capitalized, that's all that really matter,” said Jackson, who felt he could have improved on his first game performance. “You can always improve. The ball was wet, which made it a little hard for me, but I tried to come out and be a leader for our team.”
Jackson, who lost weapons Sam Cotton and Trey Foster to graduation, came into the 2012 season knowing he would have to step up in order for the Knights to remain the top team in Class A.
On the recruiting front, Jackson has heard from Oklahoma and Nebraska recently, and will be setting up visits down the road, once he gets cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse. The senior is still looking for his first Division I offer.
“I want to be a quarterback at the next level,” said Jackson, who could project to play defensive back at the next level. “I would do whatever is best for the team, but I'm a quarterback. It's what I want to do at the next level.”
In addition to Jackson, the Knights feature a handful of other prospects including 2014 offensive lineman D.J. Foster (6-foot-3, 300 pounds). The junior currently has an offer from Nebraska and could be the state's best player in next year's recruiting class.
“I have gotten a lot of questionnaires lately: Georgia, Indiana, UCLA, Iowa, NC State, I'm lost right now, but quite a few,” said Foster. “I'm going to try to talk to as many coaches as I can and find what their programs are all about. I definitely want to get to a Nebraska game with my brother there (Trey Foster), and UCLA, I hope they offer me soon. I have been talking with them quite a bit.”
The Knights take on Lincoln this Friday night, who won their opening game of the year 24-19 over Omaha Northwest.
Other standout performances from week one:
- North Star running back Austin Rose ran for over a 100 yards against Lincoln Southwest's defense, which features two four-star prospects.
- North Star wide receiver Noah Housh, who had over 70 yards receiving, was held to just two catches on Friday. The potential college wide receiver is looking to get more involved with the offense this year. “We need to look for him a little bit,” said North Star head coach Mark Waller. “They were pressing him a little bit at the line of scrimmage and playing a 2-deep behind him, but he's a weapon. He's a threat, we have to get him the ball someway somehow.
- Sticking with the North Star theme, senior running back/defensive back Mike Minter Jr. did not play on Friday due to team rules, but Waller says he should be back this week. “If he does things the right way, follows the expectations of the team and school, he will be back. He's a hell of a player...He'll be back.”
- Lincoln Southwest transfer Christian Lacouture, the No. 1 player in the state by Fox Sports NEXT, had to wait until late in the fourth quarter to get his first sack of the year, but it was well worth it. After racking up six quarterback hurries, Lacouture sacked North Star quarterback Brook Bolles with eight seconds left and a small lead. The sack forced a desperation Hail Mary pass at the end of the game, that was unsuccessful giving the Silver Hawks the 14-9 win. “It was huge for us,” said Lacouture. “I know we didn't have much time left and Coach King told me to go get the quarterback.”
- Millard North quarterback Isaac Aakre, who racked up over 1800 yards rushing in 2011, started 2012 off with a bang, running for 158 yards on 31 carries in an opening win against Millard South.
* In Creighton Prep's second half comeback on Friday night, junior quarterback East Stick threw for 210 yards in the second half.
* Replacing Husker walk-on Ryker Fyfe, Grand Island quarterback Andrew Rojas ran for 132 yards and four scores in a win over Lincoln Northeast.
Big Red Report Class A Power Rankings Week 2
1.) Lincoln Southeast (1-0) – The Knights didn't do anything on a rain soaked Friday night to show they were not worthy of the No. 1 spot in the state, downing Millard West who's also in the power rankings.
2.) Millard North (1-0) – The Mustangs features studs on defense and showed it last Friday night winning 10-6 over Millard South.
3.) Papillion-La Vista (1-0) – The Monarchs moved up one spot after downing rival Papillion-La Vista South.
4.) Millard South (0-1) – The Patriots only move down one spot after hanging tough with Millard North. With 16 returns from last year, expect them to be in the top four all year.
5.) Millard West (1-0) – How can a team move up one spot in the rankings after losing their opening weekend? Well when you lose to the defending state champions, the No. 1 team in Nebraska by a touchdown, you deserve it.
Mike Minter Jr's absence in week one dropped North Star from the power rankings
6.) Lincoln Southwest (1-0) – Josh Banderas showed off his running ability in the opener and have the Silver Hawks moving up the rankings.
7.) Creighton Prep (1-0) – The Junior Jays make an appearance this week, after downing Omaha Burke in week one. Creighton Prep was down 28-3 at halftime, but came back to win 31-28.
8.) Omaha North (1-0) – The Vikings got a layup in week one, playing Benson and winning 67-0. They should start 3-0 with a game against Omaha South and Bryan over the next two weeks.
9.) Omaha Burke (0-1) – Things were rolling for the Bulldogs in the first half against Creighton Prep. For a team that made the state title game last year, it would be really easy to start the year 0-2 with a match-up against Omaha Central this weekend.
10.) Bellevue West (1-0) - The Thunderbirds downed rival Bellevue East last Friday night, 29-26.
* Information from the McCook Daily Gazette