Teams from all over the state traveled to Omaha on Thursday for the third annual Nebraska 7v7 State Championship founded by Mike Sautter and now run by the Omaha World-Herald. This year’s field included 37 teams from 38 schools and at the end of the day, Class B Aurora took home the all-class crown.
Omaha Westside, with returning quarterback Dylan Plautz, knocked off Omaha Creighton Prep to win Class A. The Huskies beat Seward in Class B then took down an impressive Fairbury squad, the winner of the Class C-D bracket, to set up a rematch with Westside. The Warriors beat the Huskies, including current Huskers Austin Allen and Todd Honas, to win the title in the event’s first year in 2015.
Below are some of the players who caught my eye from Thursday’s games.
Chris Hickman, 2019 TE, Omaha Burke: Hickman was as talented as any prospect at the camp and showed it every time he set foot on the field. The Bulldogs made it to the semifinals before falling to the Junior Jays, and Hickman had a lot to do with that success. The Bulldogs got off to a slow start in each of the first two rounds, but Hickman made huge plays in both to turn them around. Hickman recorded a touchdown, an interception and a one-point conversion as Burke pulled away against Millard South. In the second game, Hickman caught two more touchdowns including a game-winning Hail Mary-style catch in a crowd as the buzzer sounded. At 6-foot-5, he has the height and athleticism to win a lot of jump balls, making him a serious threat in the end zone. Hickman, who holds a handful of Division I offers already, will be in Lincoln for the Friday Night Lights camp.
Matt Masker, 2018 QB, Kearney Catholic: Masker is the top-rated in-state quarterback in the 2018 class and it’s easy to see why when you see him in person. Masker has a sturdy frame and a solid arm, and he throws a really pretty ball. He has great location and a tight spiral on his throws, and his motion looks effortless. In Kearney Catholic’s first-round win over Fremont Bergan, he led a scoring drive every time he touched the ball before taking a seat and letting his back-up get some snaps. Masker does not currently have any scholarship offers, but he has the look of someone that could potentially be a preferred walk-on target for Nebraska depending on what the quarterback room looks like moving forward.
Justin Holm, 2018 WR, Lincoln Southwest: The Silverhawks had an impressive showing on Thursday and Holm stands out on a pretty athletic squad. He is long and lean at 6-foot-6 with the ability both to get deep on the defense and win contested balls over the top. Holm caught a few impressive touchdowns throughout the day. Holm just recently picked up an offer from North Dakota and was invited to the Nebraska Friday Night Lights camp according to his coach.
Baylor Scheierman, 2019 QB, Aurora: Scheierman was Aurora’s back-up quarterback as a sophomore and looks poised to take over with little offensive drop-off if Thursday’s tournament is anything to judge by. At 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds and still growing, Scheierman has terrific measurable for a quarterback and should be able to continue adding weight as he matures. A lefty, Scheierman’s throwing motion is a bit unorthodox but even so he is capable of putting the ball wherever he wants with some heat. Scheierman displayed the ability to complete passes to all three levels and threw one of the most impressive balls of the whole tournament in Aurora’s B-C-D win over Fairbury, he threw a rainbow over the top of the defense and into a receiver’s hands from 40 yards out.
Quincy Nichols, 2019 WR, Blair: Nichols is a flat-out athlete and was probably one of if not the leading receiver at the tournament. Nichols’ primary sport is basketball and he made state in track last season as well, but when it’s all said and done football might just be his calling. He’s a bit undersized at 5-foot-7 but makes up for that with tremendous hands and a huge vertical leap. Blair had Nichols running routes all over the field and the ball seemed to find his hands wherever he was. He had multiple one-handed catches, including a ridiculous interception that robbed Ralston of a touchdown in the Bears’ first-round game.
Grant Matthies, 2018 TE, Omaha Creighton Prep: Matthies is a strong, athletic tight end for the Junior Jays who consistently moved the chains on Thursday. At 6-foot-2 with a strong frame, Matthies has soft hands and is a threat to score both in the end zone and on deep passes. He’s arguably the best tight end in the state not named Cameron Jurgens.
Xavier Watts, 2020 WR, Omaha Burke: Hickman was the big name on the Burke squad, but Watts was equally impressive and perhaps more consistent from beginning to end. Watts probably led the team in receptions and did so all over the field. He is dangerous after the catch but also has the frame and toughness to win contested balls over the middle. Burke is loaded with an incredible amount of talent at the skill positions and most of those players are underclassmen. The Bulldogs should be one of the most explosive offenses in the state over the next couple of years.
Mason Armstead, 2020 WR, Omaha Creighton Prep: Armstead was another impressive young receiver at the camp. According to his coach, he had a great day at the Iowa State 7-on-7 camp last week, helping the Junior Jays bring home some hardware, and he carried that over into Thursday. Amsted shook off a couple of early drops to score all three of Prep’s touchdowns in its first-round win over Omaha Bryan. Amsted has good size, length and quickness for his age and position and should be one to watch as his career plays out.
Jacob Padilla has been writing for Hail Varsity since 2015. He covers football, volleyball men’s basketball and prep sports. He also co-hosts the Nebraska Preps Postgame and Nebraska Shootaround podcasts for the Hurrdat Media and Hail Varsity podcast networks. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.