KEARNEY — Kearney Catholic football has won seven consecutive season openers. The Stars will begin this season against Broken Bow at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Kearney Catholic High School.
Last season, the Stars claimed a 21-0 road victory over Broken Bow.
Although last year’s season-opening victory propelled the Stars to a 3-1 start, a four-game losing streak in the middle of the season ruined their chances at qualifying for the playoffs.
With eight starters back on offense, including junior quarterback Heinrich Haarberg, the Stars hope to have a different outcome this season.
Here are three areas to watch in Friday’s matchup between the Stars and Indians:
Last year, Haarberg split time at quarterback with Kamden Schwartz. With Schwartz transferring to Kearney High in the offseason, Haarberg won’t have to worry about sharing snaps this season.
Haarberg, who’s a 6-foot-5, 180-pound dual-threat quarterback, will play a critical role for the Stars. He has the intangibles to thrive as the full-time starter and gained experience last season when he threw for 733 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions. He also rushed for 186 yards and four touchdowns on 41 carries.
Haarberg will have plenty of weapons around him, including junior receivers Samson David and Logan Miner.
“He spent a lot of time in the summer with a quarterback development group with Jenkins Elite in Colorado,” coach Rashawn Harvey said. “He obviously spent some time with us throwing the ball around. He went to I think maybe five different colleges for their camps in the summer, and he had an opportunity to go and participate at the Manning Camp. He developed well this summer.”
Youthful Broken Bow
Broken Bow posted a 5-4 record last season. But this year, the Indians will have to overcome the loss of numerous starters. They lost their starting quarterback, top three rushers and leading receiver to graduation.
This season, the Indians return leading tackler Lathan Duda. The linebacker recorded a team-high 108 tackles as a sophomore last season, which was 100 more tackles than his freshman year.
“I can tell you that no matter what happens up at Broken Bow, Coach (Mike) Garner is going to have those guys ready to play,” Harvey said. “They will hang their hat on their defense. They play a 4-3 front, and they play it well. They are aggressive. They have a lot of wrestlers on their team.
“Offensively, we don’t know what to expect. Last year, we went up there planning for their power, and they came out in spread and played that the whole game. We’ve been preparing for both the power game and the spread attack.”
Last year’s matchup
In last season’s 21-0 victory, the Stars controlled the game. Although they only scored a touchdown in the first, third and fourth quarters, the production on the field favored the Stars.
The Stars tallied 285 yards of total offense compared to Broken Bow’s 112. The Stars’ defense forced four turnovers, including two interceptions by Kegan Bosshamer.
The margin of victory could have been greater, as the Stars had numerous unsuccessful red zone opportunities, including two missed field-goal attempts.
“We need to come out and be aggressive and take advantage of opportunities and points,” said Harvey on what the Stars can learn from last season’s game. “We left 21 points on the board in the first half. We got inside the 15-yard line and couldn’t punch it in. We have to start fast. Anytime we can start fast, we do well throughout the season.”