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No. 9 York looking to get back on track in Ralston

No. 9 York looking to get back on track in Ralston

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News-Times file photo

York linebacker Marley Jensen stuffs a McCook run during the first half of last Friday’s game at East Hill Stadium. Jensen has 13 tackles on the season for the Dukes.

YORK – For the first time since the 2013 Class B quarterfinals, the York Dukes and Ralston Rams will square off on a football field Friday night.

The last time these two programs played together, York slipped by with a 42-41 win in overtime at East Hill Stadium. York head coach Glen Snodgrass remembers that game well.

“That was maybe the best high school game I’ve seen or been a part of in my life and I’ve been a part of a lot of good ones,” he said.

Ralston (1-1) gets York on its turf field this time around.

“We always enjoy going to new places and seeing new venues,” Snodgrass said. “It’s always fun to play somebody different and I was pretty excited when I saw they were on our schedule this year. We’ve definitely spanned the entire state, going to Alliance a couple weeks ago and now to Ralston this week, but that’s fine, it’s just where we are in central Nebraska.”

While McCook, York’s opponent last week, won’t be mistaken for Ralston on the football field, those two teams share a similarity in the sense that they’ll both be playing York coming off a bye week.

McCook’s Sept. 4 game against Crete didn’t happen because of a positive COVID test on Crete’s side. Ralston’s game last week with Omaha Bryan never happened because Bryan is a member of the Omaha Public Schools system, which will attempt to play fall sports in the spring.

So Ralston, which beat Beatrice 38-27 in the season opener and lost to Plattsmouth 29-20 on Sept. 4, will have fresh legs while York has the typical bumps and bruises one sustains after a football game with McCook.

Ralston’s offense is as different from McCook’s as it can get. The Rams will use spread formations and rely on big gains and explosive plays – the polar opposite from the grind-it-out approach under center from the Bison. Limiting plays of 15 or more yards will be a key.

As for players to keep an eye on, watch Ralston’s junior running back Rashad Madden, an elusive and powerful runner. Through two games, the 5-foot-8, 160-pound Madden has 454 all-purpose yards. He’s rushed for 356 yards and four touchdowns on just 39 carries – that’s quite a large 9.1 yards per carry – while also catching four passes for 43 yards and one score.

Snodgrass said the defense will have its hands full with Madden.

“He’s the best I’ve seen in a long time,” Snodgrass said of the Ralston back. “We see a lot of good players and this kid is, at least from what I’ve seen on these two films from week one and two, he’s as good as anyone I’ve seen since 2013 when Isaac Wallace came here for Ralston in that playoff game. It’s going to be a challenge slowing that kid down.”

Ralston’s offense has averaged 218.7 total yards per game, rushing for 138.7 and passing for 80.

Defensively, York’s coaching staff will expect Ralston to be in a four-man front but the Rams may switch things up. There could be some three- and five-man looks at times. The Rams’ coverages on the back end are difficult to get a good grasp on, too, Snodgrass said.

York’s offense, which was held to 80 yards rushing last week by a very stout Bison defense, will look to get the run game going early.

“It’s a different defense to get a read on. McCook’s defense and offense are easier to read because they’re so disciplined and so well coached,” Snodgrass said. “Ralston is a little more wide-open in what they do. It’s going to be more difficult for us to get a read on what exactly they are doing because they run so many different things.”

York’s defense could have a seasoned vet back with senior safety Kirby Linhart, who may be available on Friday after missing the first three games with an injured lower leg.

“He’s got speed, and that’s what this game will be all about,” Snodgrass said.

Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. in Ralston.

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