Taylor Time: Football Beat Writer Predicts Week Two of the Playoffs

It’s down to just eight teams. 


The second round of the 2019 Class A Football State Tournament takes the stage this Friday as the pressure on each team grows just a little more. Last week’s predictions stayed perfect with an 8-0 record and hopefully the goose egg in the loss column will stay the way it is. Each of the final eight teams has proved themselves worthy of being at this stage. Now, all it comes down to who can take down the other top dogs in the state. Here are the four quarterfinal predictions to continue the road to Memorial. 


# 1 Millard West Wildcats (10-0) vs #9 Elkhorn South Storm (7-3)


Location & Time: Buell Stadium @ 8 PM



Elkhorn South surprised a lot of people by taking down Kearney last week in comparatively easy fashion. The Storm are a run-heavy team and will need to stay consistent on the ground to give them a shot at taking down the top-ranked Millard West Wildcats. The undefeated Wildcats are coming off a 34-0 blowout win against Lincoln Pius X and aren’t looking to slow down anytime soon. With the second-best defense in all of class A, the Wildcats will have no problem shutting down Elkhorn South’s running game. At the end of the day, it comes down to resumé and the Wildcats have a lot better of one. The Wildcats are 4-0 against ranked opponents and 2-0 against top-five teams. The Storm, on the other hand, are 1-3 against ranked opponents and have been blown out in their three losses. Millard West should inch one step closer to the state final.


Prediction: Millard West 38-10



#4 Bellevue West Thunderbirds (10-0) vs #5 Burke Bulldogs (9-1) 


Location & Time: Bellevue West High School @ 7 PM



In what is probably the biggest matchup of the week, this game can go both ways. Neither team has really proven themselves against top opponents as they both only matchup against one ranked opponent this year. The Thunderbird offense has been off the charts this year, putting up at least 400 yards in every game they’ve played. The defense has been strong this year as well, only allowing an average of 3.5 points a game. Although these have not been against great opponents, the Thunderbirds have shown that they are a well put together team, arguably the best in the state. The Bulldogs have been quietly a top dog in Class A this year. With the pocket passing QB in Reid Burke and 1,000-yard rusher Jaylon Roussell, the Bulldogs bring a lot to the table. However, Burke has not proven himself a threat outside of the pocket and has shown flaws when under pressure. If the Thunderbird defense can get pressure on Burke, they have a great chance at forcing turnovers and handing it over to the offense. Although the Bulldogs seem to be a good sleeper upset choice this week, the Thunderbirds just have a more powerful offense.


Prediction: Bellevue West 31-20



#3 Millard South Patriots (9-1) vs #6 Grand Island Islanders (9-1)


Location & Time: Buell Stadium @ 4 PM



The teams’ records in this matchup tell very different stories. The Millard South Patriots have been through many tough opponents this year, and they have made it a game against every single one. Against ranked opponents this year, the Patriots are 3-1 and haven’t shown too big of weaknesses. The running game, led by top rusher Isaiah Harris has been the best in all of Class A this year, averaging 311 yards per game. The passing game hasn’t had the same success as the run, but it is still a threat coming into gameday. The Islanders of Grand Island are 1-1 against ranked opponents and barely came home with the lone victory against #8 Kearney in week one. Outside of those two games, the Islanders have either fed on teams way below .500 or barely squeaked by with wins against .500 teams. Neither the rushing game nor passing game has gotten above 300 yards this season, and the competition they have been going against hasn’t been the best in the state. Isaiah Harris and the Millard South Patriots should cruise through round two and head for next week.


Prediction: Millard South 41-28



#2 Lincoln Southeast Knights (9-1) vs #7 Omaha Westside Warriors (8-2)


Location & Time: Seacrest Field @ 7 PM



Besides, maybe, the Bellevue West and Burke game, this is the biggest game of the week. This is the second matchup of the year for these teams and both matchup really well. The Lincoln Southeast Knights are lead by the second-leading rusher in Class A, Nick Hallee, who has put up over 1,500 yards this season and has been the majority of the Knights offense this year. The defense for the Knights has been another factor in the Knights’ success this season. Only allowing an average of 8.9 points a game, the Knight defense has shown that they can compete in games against any team. The biggest flaw for Lincoln Southeast this season is their lack of a passing game. The Knights switch off between two different quarterbacks in Shadon Shannon and Coby Daffer, who both run the ball the majority of the time. Only averaging 98 yards a game by the air is a concern for the Knights, especially if they can’t get the run game going. The Warriors, on the other side of the ball, have been successful on both sides this season. Quarterback Cole Payton has multiple D1 wideouts to throw to and can also do it with his legs if needed. The Warriors also have many different options on the ground that all can do their job if needed. Kolani, Dickerson, Mayberry and Harrell all have done well in the situations they’ve been given and are threats for the passing game as well. The Warriors defense has been great against the pass this season and has forced QB hurries all season. The two biggest concerns headed into the postseason were the ability to close out games in the fourth quarter, and the ability to defend against the run. In the last matchup between these teams, Nick Halleen was giving the Warriors many troubles and the Knights came from behind with 14 fourth-quarter points to win the game. The Warriors, however, proved last week that they could stay confident all four quarters, putting up 35 in the third quarter to pull away against Prep. If the Warriors can continue what they did last week, and stay tough on the Knight rushing attack, they could very well head out of Seacrest Field with a win.


Prediction: Omaha Westside 27-23