Future passers have their work cut out trying to topple Jadyn Kowalski’s records.
The Bellevue West senior beat the state’s 11-man season touchdown record by nine, taking it from 37 to 46. He’s the first to have back-to-back 3,000-yard seasons, setting the single-season record of 3,146 yards.
The 6-foot-4 Kowalski, in 22 starts the past two years plus a little mop-up time as a sophomore, finished his career with 6,226 yards and 83 touchdowns. If he hadn’t been pulled early, as soon as the second quarter in one of West’s many blowouts in the regular season, the totals would have been higher yet.
Bellevue West's Jadyn Kowalski, in 22 starts the past two years plus a little mop-up time as a sophomore, finished his career with 6,226 yards and 83 touchdowns.
» Second team has plenty of first-rate firepower
» List: All-Class teams, honorable mention
“His football IQ is exceptional,” West coach Mike Huffman said. “His ability to go from the film room and practice to the field, he was so effective with it. It made Friday nights a lot of fun.”
Kowalski and Elijah Wilson of Omaha Central are the honorary captains of The World-Herald’s All-Nebraska football team. Wilson is a defensive end and offensive guard who is pledged to South Dakota State.
“He’s a tough and physical player,” Kowalski said of Wilson. “Our line, they kind of struggled against him.”
The Big Three of Class A this year — state champion Millard North with six, Bellevue West and Millard West with five apiece — dominate the selections. Never have three teams collected two-thirds of the spots since the all-state team went to two-platoon selections in 1974.
Millard North puts four on the defense — linebackers Brody Buck and Adrian Kellogg and defensive backs Tate Moyer and Jack Begley. Offensive lineman Daniel Jahn and running back Jacob Matthew are the Mustangs’ other two honorees.
Bellevue West’s five are all on offense, including receivers Cade Johnson and Trystn Ducker. Offensive lineman Tyler Ciurej and running back Jaylin Bradley, besides Kowalski, are the other two.
Millard West’s quintet is offensive linemen Jack Domandle and Elijah Zoucha, quarterback Logan Anderjaska (taken as a back), defensive lineman Zack Sorich and linebacker Quinn Brummer.
The offensive line consists of Jahn, Domandle, Zoucha, Ciurej and Aurora’s Gavin Rush. The receivers are Johnson and Ducker, with Kowalski, Anderjaska, Bradley and Matthew the backfield. Versatile Norfolk junior Lane McCallum is the place-kicker.
On defense, the linemen are Wilson, Sorich, Omaha South’s Noah Fant and Ben Stille of Ashland-Greenwood. The linebackers are Buck, Kellogg, Brummer and Jack Connelly of Omaha Westside. The defensive backs are Moyer, Begley and Chance Hall of Central. The punter is Alec Cromer of Beatrice.
For all of his nifty numbers, Kowalski appears bound for NCAA Division II. Huffman said most MIAA schools, including Northwest Missouri State, and some in the Northern Sun Conference are interested.
“It looks like he’ll get his choice of D-II offers,” Huffman said. “He could go FCS. Northern Colorado is still interested and there’s going to be a new coach at South Dakota.
“I’m a little frustrated, but those guys make the money and it’s their jobs on the line. Jadyn has some great schools, like Northwest Missouri, wanting him and he could have an awesome time.”
Kowalski said having two All-Nebraska receivers and an all-state running back at his employ messed with defenses.
“It left them not knowing what we’d do on the next play,” he said.
Items of note for the 95th annual All-Nebraska team:
» After all 24 first-team players in 2014 were seniors, there are four juniors in 2015 — Ciurej, Bradley, McCallum and Begley.
» Stille is the only in-state player pledged to Nebraska. Fant has said he’s headed to Iowa and Rush to Wyoming. The only other known FBS pledges are Nick Lenners of Lincoln Southwest (Kansas State) and David Engelhaupt of Class C-1 Norfolk Catholic (Wyoming), both making the All-Nebraska second team; and Jared Bubak of Lincoln Christian (Arizona State), who played out of position as quarterback and is on the Class C-1 all-state team only. Season performance is valued above college potential for all-state consideration.
» All but four players on the first team are from the Metro Conference. McCallum is the only selection from a Class A school outside the Metro. Rush and Cromer are from Class B and Stille from C-1.
Honors selections are based on observations by The World-Herald staff and nominations by high school coaches. All coaches received nomination forms by email.
Contact the writer:
402-444-1041, firstname.lastname@example.org; twitter.com/stuOWH
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Video Q&A: All-Nebraska football captains
A video Q&A with 2015 All-Nebraska football captains Jadyn Kowalski of Bellevue West and Elijah Wilson of Omaha Central.
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Meet the All-Nebraska first team
Cade Johnson, Bellevue West, WR, 6-0, 175, Sr.: Explosive receiver scored on 16 of his 43 catches. Totaled 1,061 yards receiving. “Silky smooth, fast, with great hands,’’ coach Mike Huffman said. Had four interceptions, one for a touchdown, and also ran back a kickoff for a touchdown.
Trystn Ducker, Bellevue West, WR, 5-9, 165, Sr.: “He was a spectacular playmaker in space and a relentless blocker,’’ coach Mike Huffman said. The South Dakota pledge caught 66 passes for 1,177 yards and 18 touchdowns. Started at defensive back and was the Thunderbirds’ kick returner. An “electric” 85-yard return against Lincoln North Star, Huffman said, was the Omaha Creighton Prep transfer’s 19th score of the season.
Jack Domandle, Millard West, OL, 6-4, 280, Sr.: “A very calming influence on our offensive line,’’ coach Kirk Peterson said. “He played and started 35 games in his career. He paved the way for what we like to do offensively.”
Eli Zoucha, Millard West, OL, 6-3, 270, Sr.: “He’s only scratching the surface as to how good he can be,” coach Kirk Peterson said. “He made it through an entire season healthy for the first time in his entire career and his play showed.”
Tyler Ciurej, Bellevue West, OL, 6-4, 287, Jr.: “He’s in the same league as All-Nebraska, All-Big 12 lineman Ricky Henry, who I was able to coach at Burke,’’ coach Mike Huffman said. “He’s raised his agility and aggression this year with multiple pancake blocks every week.” Is receiving heavy recruiting interest from Nebraska, Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas State and Notre Dame. Has an offer from FCS South Dakota State.
Daniel Jahn, Millard North, OL, 6-2, 280, Sr.: “A very powerful young man, a great finisher,’’ coach Fred Petito said. “The guys up front brought our skill into the game to an average of 374 yards and 37 points a game. Daniel does his job very well.”
Gavin Rush, Aurora, OL, 6-2, 295, Sr.: “Gavin was a force for us on both sides of the football,’’ coach Kyle Peterson said of the Wyoming pledge. “He has exceptional power and athleticism. What sets Gavin apart from most big linemen is how he finishes every play, plays through the whistle.”
Jadyn Kowalski, Bellevue West, QB, 6-4, 210, Sr.: Record-setting quarterback for the Thunderbirds. “He checks our entire run game and navigates his passing reads with unbelievable precision’’ coach Mike Huffman said. This year’s stat line: 175 of 258 for a state-record 3,146 yards, 46 touchdowns and five interceptions in 12 games. Ran for nine touchdowns. Career: 376 of 603, 6,226 yards, 83 TDs, 16 INTs.
Logan Anderjaska, Millard West, B, 6-1, 190, Sr.: “Logan made great strides from his junior to senior season,’’ coach Kirk Peterson said. “The game slowed down and he was very efficient in directing our offense.” He was a double-1,000 performer, rushing for 1,203 yards and 11 touchdowns and throwing for 1,029 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Jaylin Bradley, Bellevue West, B, 6-0, 185, Jr.: “Tough, agile, and really tough to tackle,’’ coach Mike Huffman said. “Jaylin has been the spark to our running game.” On 195 carries, he picked up 1,712 yards and 19 touchdowns. Added a 20th touchdown on a reception. Already has been offered by South Dakota State.
Jacob Matthew, Millard North, B, 6-2, 230, Sr.: “Played banged up all year,’’ coach Fred Petito said. “His value to the team was incredible. Our playoff run and Jake’s minutes went hand-in-hand. Defensively he exceeds. Great football player, great young man.” Rushed for over 350 yards in the playoffs. Is a South Dakota State pledge.
Lane McCallum, Norfolk, K/A, 6-2, 185, Jr.: Kicked 37 of 38 extra points and was eight of 12 on field goals. “Lane is a multi-talented playmaker and could be nominated at any of the positions he played for us on special teams, offense, or defense,’’ coach Tom Olson said. “He was easily our most dynamic player on both sides of the ball, making plays at times when the team needed it most.” As a returning starter at linebacker, he had 61 tackles, five takeaways and three blocked kicks. Ran for 984 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Elijah Wilson, Omaha Central, DL, 6-4, 260, Sr.: “The best defensive player we had and arguably the best defensive player in the state,’’ coach Jay Ball said. “Led our team in tackles and defensive points.” Made 86 tackles, including 65 solo and 15 for losses, six sacks, five hurries, four forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Also started at offensive guard.
Zack Sorich, Millard West, DL, 6-2, 205, Sr.: Said coach Kirk Peterson: “He used his agility, speed, and experience as a state medal-winning wrestler understanding leverage to make it difficult for teams to gain an edge on his side of our defense.” Had 54 tackles, including 34 solo, and five sacks.
Ben Stille, Ashland-Greenwood, DL, 6-5, 245, Sr.: “Ben was a huge part of our success this season as he was called upon to do a lot of things,’’ coach Ryan Thompson said of the Husker pledge. “He was a physical blocker who opened holes for our backfield but also was a mismatch to most defenders in our passing game., Defensively he demanded double teams and was always in the backfield disrupting plays. He also handled all of our kicking duties which allowed us to create great field position.” Made 79 tackles, including 45 solo, with nine sacks and three fumble recoveries.
Noah Fant, Omaha South, DL, 6-5, 215, Sr.: “Noah was motivated to have a dominant senior season,’’ coach Chris Fant said. “He truly has a strong desire and passion to be great. This past off-season during the spring while we were working out I asked him after working out, ‘What’s your motivation Noah?’ He responded by saying ‘making sure that I can be the best I can possibly be and to out-work everybody.’ This mentality really showed in his play on Friday nights. He was relentless in his pursuit to becoming a great football player.” Made 46 catches for 10 touchdowns, both school records, and 570 yards.
Jack Connelly, Omaha Westside, LB, 6-0, 210, Sr.: “Jack’s high football IQ and attacking style was the key to his success,’’ coach Brett Froendt said. “His 29 tackles for losses and one sack came on only three blitzes all year — no tackles on the blitzes, either. His instinct and reaction time was phenomenal. His ability to finish all tackles provides examples for our program to use for the younger players. Jack is one of my best linebackers in 23 years of coaching.” Was part of 137 tackles as a senior and 260 in his career.
Brody Buck, Millard North, LB, 6-1, 205, Sr.: “Our improvement defensively coincided with Brody,’’ coach Fred Petito said. “A very intense and hard-nosed young man. One of our top defenders. He is a very physical player and our leader on defense.”
Adrian Kellogg, Millard North, LB, 6-0, 190, Sr.: A two-way starter for the Mustangs. “Adrian prepared himself well and at game time he proved to be one of the best players on the field every single game,” coach Fred Petito said. “A very unselfish player who ran, caught, tackled and blocked with tremendous effect, desire and physicality. His value to our team was off the chart.” Scored 14 touchdowns, including two on interception returns and one on a kickoff runback.
Quinn Brummer, Millard West, LB, 5-9, 190, Sr.: “He used his experience as a sophomore and junior to run the show defensively for us this year,’’ coach Kirk Peterson said. “Very tenacious and heady.” Led the Wildcats tackle chart with 46 solo and 52 assisted stops and had three fumble recoveries.
Tate Moyer, Millard North, LB, 6-0, 180, Sr.: “Our corners play press man-to-man and Tate is as good as they come,’’ coach Fred Petito said. “We tell him, ‘Take this receiver out of the game’ and he smothers them.” Had 25 pass breakups and Petito said only nine catches were made against him.
Jack Begley, Millard North, DB, 6-3, 210, Jr.: “Our quarterback on defense,’’ coach Fred Petito said. “We have a tradition of great free safeties at Millard North and Jack is in the Jake Galusha company. He’s started 24 straight games, gets better game by game and in the big games he was out of sight.” Had 70 solo tackles and six takeaways, and in the state final against Millard West had eight tackles and three takeaways.
Chance Hall, Omaha Central, DB, 6-0, 180, Sr.: “A two-way start for the past two seasons, he’s been our best defensive back and receiver in both of those seasons,’’ coach Jay Ball said. Made 46 tackles and five pass breakups and scored on one of his three interceptions and five of his 12 receptions.
Alec Cromer, Beatrice, P, 6-5, 225, Sr.: The South Dakota State quarterback pledge led the state in punting with a 43.2-yard average, on 19 kicks. He was a 60-percent passer who threw for 1,169 yards and accounted for 19 touchdowns.