Under the direction of a new head coach, it’s still business as usual for this year’s Scottsbluff High School football team that opened practice Monday with the same high expections for success.
Jud Hall, who took over for Joe Benson in February, is now in charge after spending the last nine years as an assistant on a veteran staff that looks a little different entering this season.
“It’s really weird for me. I’ve been here 10 years now and every day I came out to practice coach Benson and coach (Mark) Moran have been out here,” Hall said. “It’s kind of weird not seeing those two faces out here every day, but more importantly hearing their voices and the knowledge they bring to the game. We’re moving forward, but it’s definitely different not having those experienced guys out here with us.”
The Bearcats opened camp with a lofty roster size in the 90s. That number is bolstered by a big senior class that’s expected to help keep Scottsbluff among the best Class B teams in the state once again. Of the Bearcats’ returning starters, 12 are seniors.
“Our seniors have really taken a leadership role making sure we’re doing things the right way, which is good to see because that was one of our questions coming into the season after losing such a great leadership class last year,” Hall said. “So far our seniors have done exactly what we’ve asked of them and they’re leading by example just like last year’s group.”
The most experienced of the returning Bearcat seniors is Jasiya DeOllos. The 6-foot, 205-pound running back and linebacker will be in his third year starting. DeOllos was also a key contributor on defense as just a freshman.
Joining DeOllos in the offensive backfield will be his fellow classmates Sabastian Harsh at quarterback and Jacob Krul at running back.
Standing at 6-3 and weighing in at 220, Harsh will be one of the state’s top signal callers. By the end of the campaign, Harsh could potentially be a 1,000-yard passer and a 1,000-yard rusher. Last year as a junior he passed for 881 yards and rushed for 802 with a combined total of 25 touchdowns.
Krul was the Bearcats’ third-leading rusher last season behind Harsh and Chris Busby. Krul ran for 578 yards and 10 touchdowns on just 58 carries.
Jack Darnell is another senior who’s been starting on both sides of the ball. Darnell will look to continue providing big plays at tight end and linebacker.
Up front five senior linemen are back to pave the way for the Bearcats’ power running game. They include Sam Clarkson, Creighton Dike, Kyler Kautz, Joe McLoud, and Trayton Travnicek. The 6-6, 290-pound Clarkson is back after missing last season with an injury.
Luke Rohrer, Terrence Mokeac and Caleb Walker are three other seniors returning as starters. Walker is the leader of the kicking game.
Juniors Nick Maag and Evan Heggem also were starters as sophomores last season.
Hall said the value of having such a big number of experienced returners back is priceless.
“It’s great. We’re expecting big things out of them,” he said. “These guys have played on Friday nights. They’ve been through the program and understand the tempo that we practice at and the expectations we have in practice. Those guys leading by example and doing things the right way just teaches our young kids how we do things and what we expect in our program.”
Scottsbluff, which finished 12-1 last season, advanced all the way to the Class B championship game before falling to Omaha Skutt Catholic. The Bearcats are aiming to make a 10th straight appearance in the state playoffs.
Scottsbluff opens its season at home against North Platte on Aug. 30. The Bearcats beat the Class A Bulldogs 41-20 in last year’s season opener.
Scottsbluff will enter the season with a 12-game regular-season winning streak. The Bearcats’ last loss in the regular season was in 2017 against McCook.