(Nebraska City) -- The Nebraska City football team kicks off their season at home on Friday night against Schuyler.
The Pioneers are coming off a 5-4 winning mark in 2019 and will look for even more in 2020. While the offseason was unique, Coach Dan Hempel believes his team took advantage of their opportunities.
“Our leaders took it upon themselves to get other players involved in a workout program,” Hempel said. “A lot of the guys were up at the field, and they came back in June and were in better shape than we’d seen them.”
Coach Hempel says he’s been impressed with many of his returning players in that regard, including junior Braden Thompson, who had 329 yards receiving and five touchdowns on offense and 38 tackles and 6.0 tackles for loss on defense.
“(Thompson) has really blossomed into a specimen,” he said. “He has put a lot of time in the weight room. He’s a big, tall kid and really been working on getting faster, which has shown in practices.”
Other leaders of note include likely quarterback and another junior MJ Nelson and seniors Colby Hoback, Wyatt Roberts and Riley Wehling.
One of Nebraska City’s five wins last season came in a 35-12 victory over Schuyler, which ended up finishing 0-9 in former Nebraska defensive lineman Jason Ankrah’s first year as head coach.
“I expect they will be an attacking defense and blitz a lot,” Hempel said. “From what we’ve seen they have a special quarterback this year. It’s a sophomore kid that is really electric with the football in his hands. He’s just a very good athlete, so we’ve got to do what we can to bottle up their QB.
“It looks to me like Coach Ankrah is doing a lot of good things over there. We expect it to be a physical ballgame.”
Kirt Manion will have reports from Nebraska City/Schuyler on Friday evening on our Red Oak Chrysler Connection Show. All of our coverage begins on AM 960 and FM 99.1 at 6:20.
Hear the full interview with Coach Hempel linked below.