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Class A and B semifinals: Breaking down the games, and the players to know for Friday

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Traditional powers and familiar foes populate the matchups in both A and B. Here's the information to know about Friday's games.

Class A

(Note: Journal Star rankings are used instead of playoff seeds. All times central.)

No. 6 Grand Island (9-2) at No. 3 Omaha Westside (10-1), 7 p.m.

These teams met in Week 2, with Westside making the trip to Grand Island and rolling to a 37-13 win by forcing three turnovers and holding the Islanders to 144 yards of offense and four first downs. How much GI has closed the gap in the ensuing two months will tell the tale here. Westside is seeking to become the third Class A team to make four straight championship games and the first since Millard North in 2002-25. Grand Island is seeking its first finals appearance since 2018.

No. 5 Creighton Prep (8-3) at No. 1 Gretna (11-0), 7 p.m.

Gretna was the last team to defeat Prep, eking out a 16-13 victory back in Week 4 to drop the Junior Jays to 1-3. That game was the last in Prep's punishing start to the season, which also included one-score losses to Bellevue West and Omaha Westside. It's tempting to pencil in a juicy final of Gretna and Westside that would be a rematch of last season, but Prep's dominant offensive and defensive lines will give Zane Flores and crew all they can handle. The Junior Jays are after their first final since 2014.

York at Waverly, 9.23

Waverly's Cooper Skrobecki (right) gets a high-five from Samuel Schernikau (left) after scoring a touchdown against York on Sept. 23 in Waverly.

Class B

No. 5 Waverly (9-2) at No. 1 Bennington (11-0), 7 p.m.

The winning streak is up to 24 for Bennington. The Badgers have been elite once again this season though maybe, just maybe, half a tick off of last season's dominance. Waverly shouldn't be intimidated by the stage. Its two losses have been one-score affairs to teams that spent most of the season right behind the Badgers in the rankings, one on a last-minute touchdown against Elkhorn and the other in overtime against Scottsbluff. Although in last season's quarterfinals, Bennington beat Waverly 41-0. An upset would put Waverly in its third state final, but first since 1980.

No. 2 Scottsbluff (10-1) at No. 3 Omaha Gross (11-0), 7 p.m.

Scottsbluff is hoping its furthest trip east this season leads to one more road trip next weekend for a state championship game. The Bearcats and Gross both have good arguments for being No. 2 in the state behind Bennington; Scottsbluff with its dominant run game and Gross with a massive senior class that allowed the Cougars to stay in Class B this year and make a run at a championship. This might be the game of the night across all seven classes.

Players to watch

Sam Sledge, Creighton Prep: Creighton Prep flexed its muscle up front in a 10-3 quarterfinal win over Elkhorn South, and Sledge, a Nebraska commit, is a big reason why. The 6-foot-4, 280-pounder is tied for the team lead with eight tackles for loss, while he and Princeton commit Rocco Marcelino have combined for 11 quarterback hurries. 

Tyson Boganowski, Gretna: There are plenty of pass catchers for Zane Flores to throw to, but Boganowski, a senior, provides a reliable target. He leads the Dragons with 58 catches and 548 yards, and while his per-catch average doesn't jump off the page, he gives Gretna a dependable option when it's time to move the chains.

Isaac Conner, Bennington: If the Badgers find themselves needing to take the top off of Waverly's tough defense, they'll likely look to Conner, who has averaged 17 yards on his 56 catches this season with a team-best 13 touchdowns. If the senior hits his averages Friday, he'll go over 1,000 receiving yards for the season.

Josiah Mobley, Scottsbluff: Facing one of the top running backs in the state Omaha Gross's Jake Garcia, Scottsbluff will need Mobley, its starting middle linebacker, to have a big game. He's come through all season, with his 113 total tackles twice as many as anyone else on the team. There are going to be some collisions between Mobley and Garcia all night.

Contact the writer at cbasnett@journalstar.com or 402-473-7436. On Twitter @ChrisBasnettLJS.

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