Drake Gilliland

Mitchell senior Drake Gilliland, shown carrying the ball this fall against Chadron High, is both the single-season and career rushing leader in the Nebraska Panhandle.

Photo by Con Marshall

Five 11-man running backs from the Nebraska Panhandle rushed for more than 1,000 yards during the 2017 high school football season, led by Mitchell senior Drake Gilliland, whose 2,095 yards are the most ever in the 11-county area in a season.

The 5-foot-8, 180-pound speedster is the fourth 11-man player from the Panhandle to exceed 2,000 yards rushing in a season. The others are another Mitchell product, Chad Surratt, with 2,021 yards in 1992, Austin Forster of Gordon with 2,022 in 1997 and Logan Lewis of Sidney with 2,053 in 2013.

Going a step farther, Gilliland also is the only 11-man ball carrier to have run for more than 1,500 yards in a season twice. A year ago, he rushed for 1,819 yards, which is sixth all-time in the region. Add the 719 yards that he ran for as a sophomore and he totaled 4,633 yards the past three seasons, the career-best by a western Nebraska high school player.

The runner-up is believed to be Wyatt Pankowski of Bridgeport, who ran for 3,701 yards 2013-2015 and is the only 11-man back on record from the Panhandle to rush for more than 1,000 yards three times during his career.

Gilliland carried 638 times the past three seasons, giving him a 5.7-yard average.

The Mitchell dynamo got to strut his stuff far beyond the Panhandle on Saturday, Nov. 25. He was a late addition to the Nebraska roster for the third annual River Battle Bowl, an all-star game against Iowa seniors played in Treynor, Iowa. He was voted Nebraska’s offensive MVP after carrying 10 times for 67 yards.

This year’s other 1,000-yard-plus rushers from the Panhandle also racked up some impressive numbers this season.

Korby Campbell of Gordon-Rushville was second on the list with 1,685 yards, seventh for a single season in the Panhandle all-time, according to the Chadron Record stats that date back to 1980. Close behind was Scottsbluff’s Chris Busby with 1,524, to also crack the top 12 all-time, followed by Sidney’s Derek Robb with 1,148 yards and Chadron’s Logan Tiensvold with 1,048.

Chadron also threw the ball effectively. Quarterback Coy Bila completed 149 of 231 passes for 64.5 percent, 1,510 yards and 14 touchdowns. Bayard’s Mitch McKibbin also passed well, completing 124 of 252 tosses for 1,418 yards and 12 TDs.

Bila and McKibbin also were the most effective passers a year ago, when McKibbin was 139 of 272 for 1,565 yards and 8 touchdowns and Bila connected on 146 of 237 for 1,534 yards and 13 TDs.

There are at least two other stats reported by Panhandle coaches this fall that deserve being mentioned. Bridgeport senior Marce Vasquez was credited with 100 solo tackles (just two others that were assisted) and, for the first time, a girl is included in the Record’s Panhandle football roundup.

The latter is Destiny Mueller of Gering, who was the Bulldogs’ primary placekicker. She connected on all three of the field goals she attempted and also made 11 of 14 extra point kicks this season.

The stats follow:

Rushing Offense G Yds. Ave.

Scottsbluff (9-2) 11 3,252 295.6

Mitchell (4-5) 9 2,519 279.9

Gord-Rush (5-4) 9 2,084 231.6

Gering (2-7) 9 1,740 193.3

Sidney (4-5) 9 1,699 188.0

Bridgeport (2-7) 9 1,479 164.3

Chadron (8-2) 10 1,393 139.3

Bayard (3-6) 9 935 103.9

Alliance (0-9) 9 613 68.1

Passing Offense G Yds. Ave.

Bayard 9 1,530 170.0

Chadron 10 1,608 160.8

Mitchell 9 1,074 119.3

Gordon-Rushville 9 871 96.7

Alliance 9 864 96.0

Sidney 9 723 80.3

Bridgeport 9 489 54.3

Gering 9 414 46.0

Scottsbluff 11 471 42.8

Total Offense G Yds. Ave.

Mitchell 9 3,593 399.2

Scottsbluff 11 3,723 338.5

Gordon-Rushville 9 2,955 328.3

Chadron 10 3,002 300.2

Bayard 9 2,459 273.2

Sidney 9 2,422 269.1

Gering 9 2,154 239.3

Bridgeport 9 1,968 218.7

Alliance 9 1,477 164.1

Rushing No. Yds. Ave.

Drake Gilliland, Mit. 269 2,095 7.8

Korby Campbell, G-R 220 1,658 7.5

Chris Busby, SB 164 1,524 7.9

Derek Robb, Sid. 165 1,148 7.0

Logan Tiensvold, Chad. 176 1,048 6.0

Garrett W. Conn, Ger. 146 775 5.4

Kyle Kildow, BP 115 664 5.8

Jaysiah DeOllis, SB 107 606 5.8

Mitch McKibbin, Bay. 109 609 5.6

Noah Bruner, SB 92 607 5.6

Jacob Rocheleau, Ger. 105 505 4.8

Dylan Schnell, BP 77 346 4.5

Jake Lemmon, Chad. 39 244 6.3

Bryce Thyne, Mit. 44 224 5.3

Receiving No. Yds. Ave.

Jared Nelson, G-R 28 552 19.7

Dylan Lower, Mit. 25 494 19.8

Dawson Kriha, Bay. 33 478 14.5

Bray. Richardson, Chad. 39 459 11.6

Bryce Burry, Bay. 38 416 11.0

Payton Oliverius, Bay. 29 403 13.9

Keegan Reifschneider, SB 11 402 36.5

Mason Hiemstra, All. 35 383 10.9

Jon Smith, Sid. 26 375 14.4

Kysen Harris, All. 47 309 6.6

Justin Spencer, Mit. 17 301 17.7

Jeff Cerny, Chad. 22 259 10.7

Sam Rischling, Chad. 25 256 10.2

Trace Beguin, G-R 11 218 19.8

Drake Gilliland, Mit. 10 181 18.1

Jake Lemmon, Chad. 16 173 10.8

Karsen Hunter, Bay. 25 157 6.0

Kaleb Lussetto, BP 7 154 22.0

Cooper Heusmann, Chad. 9 149 16.5

Tyler Pzanka, Ger. 6 146 24.3

Jacob Rocheleau, Ger. 8 145 18.1

Cole Faessler, BP 5 141 28.2

Kickoff Returns No. Yds. Ave.

Mitch McKibbin, Bay. 18 322 17.9

Kaleb Lussetto, BP 13 277 21.3

Korby Campbell, G-R 7 201 28.7

Josh Schaub, Ger. 15 185 12.4

Garrett W. Conn, Ger. 7 173 24.7

Brayden Richardson, Chad. 8 154 19.3

Andrew Higgins, G-R 11 133 12.1

Ryan Agubello, Mit. 8 123 15.4

Derek Robb, Sid. 4 117 29.3

Punt Returns No. Yds. Ave.

Marc Vasquez, BP 5 200 40.0

Keagan Reifschneider, SB 4 104 26.0

Kyle Kildow, BP 6 96 16.0

Jon Smith, Sid. 6 87 14.5

Kaleb Lussetto, BP 3 68 22.7

Jake Lemmon, Chad. 8 61 7.6

Punting No. Yds. Ave.

Blake Thyne, Mit. 22 762 34.7

Arik Doty, Sid. 41 1,379 33.2

Morgan Hurlburt, G-R 22 677 30.8

Coy Bila, Chad. 24 1,008 29.6

Anthony Walker, Ger. 40 1,175 29.4

Dalton Harter, Bay. 20 575 28.8

Maurice Vasquez, BP 20 575 28.8

Scoring TD PAT Total

Drake Gilliland, Mit. 22 4 140

Chris Busby, SB 19 3 120

Korby Campbell, G-R 18 4 116

Logan Tiensvold, Chad. 16 7 110

Derek Robb, Sid. 15 --- 92

Noah Bruner, SB 11 --- 6

Jared Nelson, G-R 7 15 *59

Kyle Kildow, BP 8 1 50

Mitch McKibbon, Bay. 7 4 50

Bryce Burry, Bay. 6 1 42

Jeff Cerny, Chad. 6 3 42

Jake Lemmon, Chad. 6 2 40

Dawson Kriha, Bay. 5 0 30

Jacob Rocheleau, Ger. 4 2 28

Blake Thyne, Mit. 4 1 26

Jaysiah DeOlles 4 --- 24

Brayden Richardson 4 --- 24

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*Includes 1 2-pt conversion

Kick Scoring FG PAT Total

Jon Smith, Sid. 1-2 21-23 24

Traeton Harimon, Bay. 3-6 11-20 20

Destiny Mueller, Ger. 3-3 11-14 20

Blake Thyne, Mit. 1-1 17-25 20

Smith also scored two TDs for total of 36 pts.

Thyne also scored 4 TD and 1 2-pt PAT for 46 pts.

Tackles Unass. Asst, *Total

Braydon Wilson, All. 67 41 175

Bailey Hood, All. 49 35 133

Chandler Stinson, All. 28 26 82

Kyson Harris, All. 31 19 81

Owen Shemadine, All. 25 21 71

Brayden Palmer, All. 24 18 66

Eric Folchert, All. 21 18 60

Karsen Hunter, Bay. 60 35 155

Mitch McKibbin, Bay. 45 36 132

Steven Tobacco, Bay. 33 23 89

Peyton Oliverius, Bay. 26 31 83

Len Christian, Bay. 28 24 80

Marce Vasquez, BP 100 2 202

Charles Lang, BP 35 5 75

Kaleb Lussetto, BP 30 5 65

Cole Faessler, BP 29 4 62

Clark Riesen, Chad. 58 41 157

Jeff Cerny, Chad. 39 46 124

Dan Dunbar, Chad. 33 27 93

Drew Jersild, Chad. 33 20 86

Cody Ybarra, Ger. 66 64 196

Logan Murdock, Ger. 35 47 117

Julian Corona, Ger. 37 40 114

Albin Borjesson, Ger. 26 19 7

Jacob Rocheleau. Ger. 24 20 68

Brendon Williams, Ger. 16 32 65

Korby Campbell, G-R 29 40 98

Tommy Bragg, G-R 18 45 81

Kaden Vincent, G-R 23 31 77

Andrew Higgins, G-R 22 25 69

Morgan Hurlburt, G-R 21 19 61

Drake Gilliland, Mit. 29 58 116

Lane Chasek, Mit. 22 68 112

Dylan Lower, Mit. 33 26 92

Blake Thyne, Mit. 27 25 79

Justin Spencer, Mit. 26 24 76

Hunter Lemley, Mit. 18 39 75

Garrett Nelson, SB 37 61 135

Sabastian Harsh, SB 34 48 116

Pablo Cervantes, SB 21 61 103

Jordan Hort, SB 27 46 100

Devin Buderos, SB 31 24 86

Jaysiah DeOllos, SB 18 26 62

Ryan Onstott, Sid 48 34 130

Coby Haas, Sid 48 14 110

Derek Robb, Sid. 41 16 98

Braydon Cortney, Sid. 27 24 78

Zak Wieser, Sid. 26 17 69

Jon Smith, Sid. 30 5 65

Lewis Cade, Sid 26 8 60

Interceptions: Keegan Reifschneider, SB, 10; Julian Cardona, Ger, 5;

Mason Hiemstra, All, 4; Jake Lemmon, Chad, 4; Drake DeMasters, BP,

Drew Jersild, Chad, Jared Nelson, G-R, Tanner Rafferty, Bay, Braydon

Richardson, Chad, Derek Robb, Sid, Jon Smith, Sid, all 3.

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