Jarod Bearinger, back judge; Aaron Kruger, line judge; Jeremy Woeppel, umpire; Steve Arehart, head linesman; Steven Hankla, referee (Crew Chief) 

 

 

 

2024 Banquet Speaker Bill Lafleur

 

The 2024 speaker for the NEN All Star Football Classic banquet is Bill Lafleur. Bill graduated from Norfolk Catholic High School where he participated in football, basketball, and track.  Bill attended University of Nebraska Lincoln where he played football.  He was a punter for the Big Red and lettered four years.  While at Nebraska, Bill set records for performance index scores for punters as well as setting a record for season punting average.  Bill led the BiG XII as a senior and was named Second Team All Conference as well as a First Team Academic All American for the Big Red.  During his time at Nebraska (1994-1999), Bill was a member of three National Title teams. 

After graduating from Nebraska, Bill played professional football for six  years before retiring in 2008.  He played for the New Orleans Saints, San Diego Chargers, and the San Francisco 49’ers as well as time in the CFL and NFL Europe.  

Bill has an undergraduate degree in history from the University of Nebraska and Masters Degrees in Teaching and Administration from the University of Nebraska Omaha and Wayne State College respectively.  Bill accepted a job to teach and coach at Norfolk Catholic in 2012 and transitioned to being the Elementary Principal at Norfolk Catholic in 2016.   

Bill is married to Jade Lafleur who is a realtor in Norfolk and owns RELY Real Estate Company. They have three children: Knox (13), Lola (10), and Vivienne (6) who all attend NorfolK Catholic.

                       Bill Lafleur

2024 Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award

Rich Rethwisch graduated from Elkhorn Valley High School in Tilden, NE, where he participated in football, basketball, track, and Legion baseball, gaining all conference football and basketball honors, along with making the Class C all-state basketball team and the North team in the 3rd annual Coach’s Association All-Star Basketball team his senior year.  Rich retired from a 42 year teaching and coaching career in 2018 and just this year retired from a 45 year officiating career.  

His first head football coaching job was at Ainsworth, NE, where he was hired in 1978.  After an initial less than average first year, Rich led Ainsworth to their first winning season in eight years culminating his second season with a 3-0 win over Chadron in the Rangeland Conference title game and followed that with three more East Rangeland titles, which included four straight wins over arch-rival Valentine and Ainsworth’s first ever state playoff berth, a 1980 Class B state appearance opposite McCook.  

He was hired in 1983 as head football and track coach at O’Neill St. Mary’s where the Cardinals made their first appearances ever in state playoff history, going three straight years and winning the 1984 Class C-2 State Championship, beating Grant, 39-15.  

After a brief tenure at hometown Elkhorn Valley, where they snapped a 29 game losing streak, Rich was hired at Pierce and continued their winning tradition owning a  three year record of 29-5 and two straight Class B state playoff appearances, which included semi-final and final appearances, losing to Elkhorn, 31-17, in the 1989 Class B final.  Rich stated he was blessed to have won as a young coach where speed and talent overcame his coaching, but adds assistant coaches John Lucero, Tom Earley, Randy Pospisil, Tom Martin, Ron Soenksen, as blessings to have on staff.    

He finished his football coaching career at Neligh-Oakdale where they stopped a 26 game losing streak and Wayne High, making two straight Class C-1 playoff appearances.  He finished his tenure with a 110-92 record.

Along with attending Elkhorn Valley, Rich attended Doane College and Wayne State College, receiving his Master’s Degree in Counseling from WSC.  His idea jump-started the NEN All-Star Football Classic, and he was a founding Classic Board member.  He was the Red Team’s first head coach, winning the initial 2013 Classic, 20-10.  He also officiated the 2019 Classic.  Rich also served as an assistant coach for the 1992 Nebraska Shrine Bowl and officiated that contest as well in 2007. 

Rich has been married for 43 years to the former Kathi Tomjack of Ewing, calling her the outstanding backbone of our family.  They have three children, Cali and husband Cody Guffey of Omaha, Gage and wife Jaci (Weidner) and three sons, Knox, Easton, and Miles of rural Norfolk, and Luke and wife Savannah (Bush) of Omaha.  

Rich Rethwisch

      Rich Rethwisch

 

2024 Outstanding Contributors Award

Bob Jensen established Huskerland Prep Report in 1990 and has been covering Nebraska statewide football ever since, adding basketball to the mix in 1995. For 33 years Huskerland was a weekly printed product, adding a Web presence in 1999 when he became the Rivals.com Nebraska high school publisher.

In addition to his “hobby” of publishing, Huskerland Bob and his wife Penni were weekly community newspaper publishers in both Callaway (4 years) and Central City (31 years). Bob got his start in newspaper sports writing at his hometown Arnold Sentinel, where he reported junior high and high school sports, and Little League baseball, for six years. He later served as sports editor for newspapers in Broken Bow, Alliance, Fairbury and Lexington before he and Penni became newspaper publishers.

A 1976 graduate of dear old Arnold High (you can look it up), Bob is a member of the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame (Class of 2015), Nebraska Eight-Man Hall of Fame (2019), and is undefeated in elephant racing, winning his only race at Alliance in the fall of 1982. Again, you can look it up!

Bob and Penni have been married for 38 years and have two children, son Matthew and daughter Jessie, and a Golden Retriever named Cooper.

Bob Jensen

                  Bob Jensen