Two Fairly Even Teams Square off to Claim Title
In just his first year as head football coach, Ryan Gotulla already has his Lincoln Southeast Knights preparing to bring back another championship to add to the school’s vast collection.
The storied football program has won eight state titles and three runner-up trophies, but it has been nearly a decade since a Lincoln Southeast team has made an appearance in the Class A state finals.
In stark contrast to Southeast’s overflowing display cabinet, an Omaha Burke football team has never won a state title nor has it ever played in a final contest at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln. However, in 1980, they did play in a Class A state final game held at Burke Stadium, where they suffered a 7-24 loss to Creighton Prep.
So how does the aforementioned trivia and history factor into trying to predict which team will win this contest. Well, it depends on where you stand.
Omaha Burke has absolutely no championship heritage in football, while Lincoln Southeast is bursting at the seams in glory. That has to spook a person you a little. Although the counter to Burke’s predicament is:”How many times has a first year head coach led his team to a Class A state championship?”
During the 2011 season, Paul Limongi’s Bulldogs played one of the most difficult schedules in Class A and still came away unscathed at 12-0. Lincoln Southeast’s schedule was noticeably softer and they dropped a game to Papillion–La Vista South to sand at 11-1.
Comparing the Personnel
QB: Both squads start juniors at the position. Burke’s Zach Cook (6-2, 195) has thrown for over 1,700 yards this season. Southeast’s Najee Jackson (6-1, 160) is more of a smooth, athletic, game manager type that can throw the ball on target when the need arises. Cook may have the better overall stats but there is no edge here in effectiveness and/or leadership.
RB: Burke has two very good 1,000 yard senior backs: small, shifty Jordan Nelson and the big, bruising Carson Collins. Southeast junior RB Devin Washington (5-7, 160) is as good and durable as they come in high school. The edge goes to Burke here because they have two studs.
Receivers: Burke’s best receiver, Zach Oliver, was kicked off the team before last week’s semifinal. Good thing Collins and Nelson can catch out of the backfield. The leading receiver for Southeast is Desmond Robinson – he shows good speed and he, Jackson and Washington have played together since little league. Underneath, Jackson has the luxury of also looking to TE Sam Cotton. Amazingly, Cotton is the only known D-1A prospect that will lineup in this championship game. Slight edge to Burke here because they just throw more.
Line Play: The reason why Burke and Southeast have made it this far is because they both get solid play from their big guys up front. Burke has more size with the likes of James Andersen and Hunter Greer, but that size is not enough to give them an edge over the very well-coached and tough group of Knights. Even.
The Knights have an overall better and more athletic defense compared to Burke’s. Even so, the Knights have not faced any team this year that has anywhere near the talent that Burke fields on offense.
Conclusion: These are two very good teams.
Prediction: Too close to call. It’s a tossup
This should be a great game!