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TIME OUT with Joe Flanagan

Forecast good for Cards – and former Card

Pssst …
Just a heads up. Football season is quickly approaching, and things are looking good for your Boone Central/Newman Grove Cardinals. Very good, in fact.
Actually, that sentiment isn’t exactly a secret. Even coming off a 5-4 season and rare absence from the Class C1 playoffs, BC/NG isn’t going to sneak up on anyone. Too much history. A reputation. And opposing coaches are well aware of the talent returning at Boone Central/Newman Grove in 2017.
Also, the proverbial cat was let out of the bag this past week with the release of Bob Jensen’s annual Huskerland Prep Report High School Football Preview.

Bob is a good friend and does a bang-up job with his Huskerland Prep Report enterprise throughout the year. The Football Preview is usually a pretty accurate gaze into the crystal ball, so when Bob ranks Boone Central/Newman Grove #5 in his 2017 preseason Class C1 Top 10, and lists three Cardinals preseason C1 All-State, it turns more than a few heads.
The praise BC/NG received in the Huskerland Football Preview certainly didn’t surprise me, but it did help solidify my belief on the type of success the Cardinals might achieve in 2017.

Great Time of Year
This has always been an enjoyable time of the year for me. When I was younger, I anxiously awaited the late summer arrival of football preview magazines on the newracks. I remember the exhilaration at the arrival of the terrific old Big 8 Annuals and the many hours I spent digesting every word, every stat, every vivid action photo.
There were so many publications in those days – Street and Smith’s, Athlon, The Sporting News, Phil Steele’s, Lindy’s, just to name a few. Some are still around today, but with information readily available year-round via the internet, they have lost much of their panache and play the part of second fiddle.
Still, there are two publications I look forward to and continue to purchase each year – the aforementioned Huskerland Prep Report Preview and the Huskers Illustrated Annual Yearbook. A football season, or preseason, wouldn’t be complete without them.

Huskers Illustrated led the way again this year and on the evening of its arrival, I settled into my ‘big chair’ for first perusal.
I began at the logical place, the beginning, paging through the multi-page features on selected players that precede the Husker team reports and opponent outlooks. First was transfer QB Tanner Lee, who has become quite celebrated since this past spring. No surprise. Next, a profile of athletic and promising young LB Mohamed Barry. Interesting.
Third? Whoa! Look at that! “NU’s Danny Woodhead.” Four pages devoted to Albion’s favorite Husker son, Wyatt Mazour, who has garnered quite a lot of statewide attention through Coach Mike Riley’s good-natured comparison to the accomplished Woodhead.

Knowing how Wyatt has flourished in Lincoln this past year, it wasn’t exactly a shock to see such a feature. Still, it gave a little jolt to see a full-page photo of a smiling Husker – the same young man I wrote so many words about, and snapped so many photos of, during his illustrious Cardinal career.
(It was also fun to discover a high school photo of Wyatt running away from would-be Lakeview tacklers included in the spread, taken by an old Albion News photographer whose name you might recognize. Wink.)
Needless to say, Wyatt is running in some fast company these days, and there is a very good chance we will see him contribute to the Husker cause this fall.
That certainly spikes the usual Husker anticipation a bit, huh?

Local Optimism
But, back to the current Cardinals. There’s plenty to look forward to locally, for sure.
Coming off of an injury-plagued 2016 campaign, Boone Central/Newman Grove received some bad news again when junior Carter Henry injured a knee this summer, requiring surgery. You wouldn’t blame Card Coach Mark Hudson and his staff for some momentary depression. Uh, oh, here we go again.
Remember, however, that Huskerland Prep Report. Bob lists BC/NG QB Dylan Gentrup as being, perhaps, one of the five best players in Class C1. He has lineman Jessie Sullivan and RB/LB Levi Krueger joining Gentrup on the preseason all-state team. They are part of a large, talented and experienced senior class that will form the core of the 2017 team and provide the necessary leadership.

The Cards have the prerequisites – strong linemen, exciting playmakers, experience, some added depth, and Gentrup, the type of athlete who can be “the straw that stirs the drink.”
There’s also a schedule that will once again provide challenges and excitement. Clashes with traditional Mid-State rivals Pierce and Norfolk Catholic. A tilt with defending C1 state champion O’Neill. A trek west to face Ord, which always fields a hard-hitting unit. Another trip to Columbus to take on a proud Scotus program.
Getting anxious yet? Yeah, I thought so.

Current Cards. A former Cardinal. Huskers. It looks like a great fall for local football fans.
Of course, those aren’t the only sports stories in our area. The Albion News will feature its Fall Sports Preview August 23, with more on the BC/NG gridders, plus reports on Riverside, going for a 4th straight Six-Man football championship, Six-Man challengers Spalding Academy and St. Edward, and Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family’s Eight-Man hopefuls.
Plus, we have volleyball, softball, cross country and girls golf to look forward to.
Summer’s ending, but this is a beginning. The beginning of hopes and dreams, cheers and tears, success and stumbles, and all the excitement that go with them.
Buckle up fans, and get ready to enjoy the ride!