Half a dozen Panhandle football players, including one each from Crawford and Hay Springs, recently received first-team all-state honors.
The Highway 20 honorees are receiver Andy Wendland of Crawford and running back Trent Reed of Hay Springs. Others from the Panhandle who earned the all-state citations are defensive lineman Garrett Nelson of Scottsbluff, running back Drake Gilliland of Mitchell, defensive lineman Reno Hunt of Hyannis and punter Kaleb Gonzalez of Minatare.
Gilliland is the only senior in the group. All the others are juniors except Gonzalez, who is a sophomore.
Reed, Hunt and Gonzalez played six-man football. Their selections were made by the Six-Man Football Coaches Association. Two more area standouts, running back Jordan Buhr of Sioux County and Bryce Running Hawk of Hay Springs, received second-team laurels from the coaches.
The other all-state selections were made by the Omaha World-Herald, Lincoln Journal Star and/or Huskerland Prep.
Wendland and Reed racked up some impressive numbers. Wendland was the state’s leading receiver in Class D2 with 70 receptions for 1,067 yards and 18 touchdowns, Reed paced the Nebraska 6-man rushers with 208 carries for 2,401 yards for an 11.5-yard average. He scored 37 touchdowns, second in the 6-man ranks behind Buhr’s 39.
The other first-team choice also had some impressive stats.
Nelson, who is 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, committed last summer to play for the Nebraska Cornhuskers when his high school career is over. He led Scottsbluff in tackles this fall with 37 unassisted stops, 61 assisted tackles and nine quarterback sacks.
Gilliland carried the ball 269 times for 2,095 yards to lead Nebraska’s Class C1 running backs in rushing yards this fall. The Mitchell speedster, who is 5-8, 180 pounds, also became the Panhandle’s all-time 11-man rushing leader this season. He rolled up 4,633 yards the past three years.
`Hyannis’ Hunt led the 6-man players in tackle points with 50 solos and 81 assisted stops. No stats are available for Minatare’s Gonzalez, but opposing coaches must have liked the way he punted.
Two Panhandle seniors received special recognition from Huskerland Prep. Publisher Bob Jensen named Korby Campbell of Gordon-Rushville and Nic Koppman of Garden County “Diamonds in the Rough” for Classes C1 and D2.
Jensen called Campbell, who is 6-3, 200, a “physically imposing and impressive all-around athlete.” Jensen added that Campbell capped his career with a fantastic season, rushing for 1,658 yards, scoring 18 touchdowns and collecting 69 tackles.
Koppman, who is 6-0, 155, also received lots of praise from Jensen. He noted Koppman had an outstanding senior season, rushing for 1,228 yards and 19 touchdowns to go with 85 tackles and eight pass interceptions.
“Consider him an all-stater. I got no problem with that,” Jensen added.
Three Dawes County players were among the 35 Panhandle gridders who received honorable mention all-state from either the Omaha or Lincoln newspapers or both.
They are quarterbacks Blaine Flack of Crawford and Coy Bila of Chadron along with the Cardinals’ Logan Tiensvold.
Flack led Class D2 in all three of the major passing statistics—160 completions for 2,236 yards and 31 touchdowns. Bila was high in the C1 passing stats with 149 completions for 1,510 yards and 14 TDs.
Tiensvold also had some impressive numbers. He rushed 276 times for 1,048 yards, caught 26 passes for 156 yards and scored 16 touchdowns and seven 2-point conversions.
The complete list of Panhandle honorable mention players follows:
Bridgeport: Logan Coalson, Marce Vasquez.
Chadron—Coy Bila, Logan Tiensvold.
Garden County—Nic Koppman, Blake McCormick
Gering—Albin Borjesson, Garrett W. Conn, Jake Rocheleau, Cody Ybarra.
Gordon-Rushville—Korby Campbell, Jarod Nelson.
Hay Springs—Kaelob Marx, Thomas Scherbarth.
Hemingford—Justin Davis, Kage Jespersen, Connor Swanson.
Hyannis—Jackson Davis, Trystin Gielissen, Zane Musgrave.
Scottsbluff—Noah Bruner, Christ Busby, Luke Ferguson, Keegan Reifschneider, Elijah Salinas.
Sidney—Cody Haas, Ryan Onstott, Zach Pettit, Derek Robb, Jon Smith.
Sioux County—Tristan Hunter.
South Platte—Joey Spencer.