Talk about a party.
That’s what it was for the No. 6 Lincoln Southeast Knights in their crosstown rivalry matchup with the Lincoln Southwest Silver Hawks on Friday night. What started a little shaky—Southwest’s Jack Baptista nearly returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown—ended in a major 35-5 win for Southeast.
The Knights’ offense obviously deserves some credit for that—senior quarterback McGinness Schneider threw for 219 yards on 11-of-22 attempts—but it was the defense that truly shined. Southeast managed to intercept the ball three times throughout the night, while also limiting Southwest to only five first downs and 112 yards of total offense.
But the story went beyond what happened on the field. Off it, there were family and teammate connections that made everything all the more interesting. Casey Rogers, a sophomore defensive lineman, is one of five Huskers coaching at Lincoln high schools this fall. He was joined by freshman safety Isaac Gifford on the Knights’ side. Across the field, sophomore offensive lineman Cameron Jurgens and redshirt freshman quarterback Luke McCaffrey coach for the Silver Hawks.
In this particular matchup, you had brothers—senior Nathaniel Gifford had a big
night as his brother watched from the box—and parents. Sitting mid-field, around 20 rows up in the stands, was Nebraska defensive line coach Tony Tuioti. His sons, Teitum and Teilor, both play for Southeast. When Rogers first started with Southeast about a week ago, Teitum quickly felt at ease.
“[Casey’s] like a father. My dad teaches him. He teaches me. It’s great,” Teitum said. “He’s adding a different side. He’s great for the defense.”
It doesn’t hurt that the things you hear come out of Tony’s mouth often mirror what comes out of Rogers’. Like the word “party.” It has its meaning at Nebraska, just like it has its meaning at Southeast. The definition is private for those that need it, but it’s not surprising to hear some crossover.
“I have a great relationship with Coach T and I get along with his kids just as well as I get along with him,” Rogers said. “I think a funny thing that happened was one of the first practices, or even the first game, I told something to Teitum and he was like, ‘Wow, that’s something my dad says. It’s exactly what my dad says.’ And I was like, ‘Well, everything I know comes from your dad.’ He started laughing.
“I just think it’s funny because he goes home and he has a visual on Coach as a dad and I think that’s really useful for a young football player. I just re-word what his dad says out here.”
Rogers would like to be a coach one day. His dad, Lelan, is an assistant lacrosse coach at Syracuse. Rogers has grown up around coaching, so it’s in his blood. This opportunity with Southeast is a step in the direction he’d like to take one day.
“This was my first week ever coaching high school football and it’s something I want to do when I’m older so it was fun,” Rogers said. “I got to start out on Monday and work in as much as I can and I came out here on the field and had fun.”
This wasn’t the first week of something new for only Rogers either. For Teitum, it was his first time facing Southwest on the varsity football team. Having Rogers alongside him, and his dad not too far up in the stands, only made it the better.
Plus, there was that “friendly fight” between Southeast and Southwest. Tony reminded Rogers of it all week. “We’ve got to beat Southwest,” he’d tell his own player who was also now coaching his sons.
And there were the current Huskers on both sides of the field making it all the more interesting too.
“Beginning of the week, it was a lot of trash talk. Cam and Luke like to try and get under my skin,” Rogers said with a laugh.
By the end, Southeast walked away with its second win of the season and plenty of bragging rights. Next up? A trip to Grand Island, where the Knights will look to stay undefeated.
For now though? It’s a party.
Erin is the Deputy Editor and Digital Marketing Strategist for Hail Varsity. She has covered Nebraska athletics since 2012, which has included stops at Bleacher Report, Cox Media Group’s Land of 10, and even Hail Varsity (previously from 2012-2017). She has also been featured on the Big Ten Network, NET’s Big Red Wrap-Up, and a varsity of radio shows nationwide. When not covering the Huskers, Erin is probably at Chipotle.