Joe's Morning Sports-Friday, November 13, 2020

Paul Casey seems to have shed the memory of his disappointing performance at the Masters 19 months ago.  The 43-year-old Englishman is the clubhouse leader at Augusta after shooting a 7-under 65 in the opening round.  Casey made an early exit at last year’s Masters, shooting 86 and 82 to fall well below the cut line.  Casey got on a roll with an eagle at the par-5 second hole.  He tacked on five more birdies to match his lowest score ever at the Masters, grabbing a two-shot lead over Webb Simpson and Xander Schauffele.  Tiger Woods is at minus-4 as he seeks a record-tying sixth Masters title.  It matched his lowest start ever at the Masters, and it was his first bogey-free round in a major since the opening round of the 2009 PGA Championship at Hazeltine.  Play had to be suspended by darkness caused by a three-hour rain delay in the morning.

The Creighton men's basketball team is ranked eleventh in the preseason USA Today Coaches poll.  It's the highest preseason ranking in the coaches poll in program history.  The Bluejays, who are also ranked eleventh in the AP Preseason Top 25, are one of two BIG EAST Conference teams represented, joining third ranked Villanova.  Creighton's Dec. 8 opponent, Kansas, is ranked fifth, and potential Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic foe West Virginia comes in 15th.  Baylor earned the top spot in the poll. The rest of the top-five consisted of Gonzaga, Villanova, Virginia, and Kansas.  Creighton is scheduled to open the 2020-21 season on Nov. 25 at the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic with a game against South Dakota State in Sioux Falls, S.D.

The ‘Red’ Team swept the ‘White’ 3-0 last night at the Nebraska Volleyball Red-White Scrimmage.  Scores of the match had the ‘Red’ winning 25-19, 25-14, 25-22.  Madi Kubik led the ‘Red’ with a match-high 13 kills, Kalynn Meyer led the ‘Red’ hitting at .600 on the night.  The true freshman had six kills on ten attempts with no errors.  Nicklin Hames had 17 assists and Kenzie Knuckles recorded a match-best twelve digs.  The White team was led by Kayla Caffey’s eight kills, finishing with a hitting percentage of .267.  Nicole Drewnick and Anni Evans each had six assists.  Emma Gabel finished with a team-high eight digs.

Nebraska, Penn State and Michigan, three of the eight winningest programs in major college football, are a combined 1-7.  Each of these programs seems to be at a different stage of distress, but it’s jarring to see all three having trouble at the same time.  Nebraska hosts Penn State at 11:00 on FS1 on Saturday in a matchup of winless teams.  Michigan is 1-2, but the Wolverines are on a two-game skid heading into a matchup with 13th ranked Wisconsin.  Coaches Scott Frost, James Franklin and Jim Harbaugh have a lot of work to do to turn things around this year.

Nebraska men’s basketball coach Fred Hoiberg announced yesterday that sophomore Akol Arop will miss the entire 2020-21 season following knee surgery last week.  Arop had an arthroscopic procedure late last week to address chronic issues with his left knee.  The surgery was a success and a full recovery will take six months.  Arop played limited minutes in 21 games as a true freshman for the Huskers.  

Nebraska baseball coach Will Bolt unveiled the Huskers' 2020 Fall Signing Class yesterday.  The class includes nine high school seniors who have signed a National Letter-of-Intent and five walk-ons who will join the Husker program in the fall 2021 semester.  Nine of the 14 players are in-state products, including seven of the top ten high school seniors in the state according to Perfect Game.

Wayne State volleyball coach Scott Kneifl announced yesterday that four student-athletes have signed national letters of intent to attend Wayne State and play volleyball for the Wildcats in the 2021 season.  The list includes Jazlin De Haan, Gabrielle Gergen, & Taylor Wilshire of Iowa along with Kalli Kroeker of Roca, Nebraska.  Wayne State finished the 2019 season at 24-7 overall and fifth place in the NSIC with a 14-6 league mark.  They were ranked 13th in the final regular season AVCA Division II Top 25 Coaches Poll.  The Wildcats’ 2020 fall season was cancelled due to COVID-19.

Wayne football coach Russ Plager has resigned.  In his four seasons, he had a record of 25-17.  Wayne went 6-4 this past season falling in the opening round of the playoffs 31-13 at Adams Central.  Plager’s teams reached the Class ‘C-1’ playoffs in three of the four years.

The High School football playoffs continue across the state with semifinal games.  In Class ‘A’, Kearney visits Elkhorn South at 6:00 and Omaha Westside entertains Millard South at 7:00.  In Class ‘B’, Aurora is home versus Plattsmouth at 7:00 and Elkhorn High faces Hastings at Hastings College in a 7:00 kickoff.  In Class ‘C-1’, in a game that can be heard on 97.5 KEXL & KEXL.com, Pierce hosts St. Paul at 6:00.  Pregame coverage at 5:20.  Also in ‘C-1’, Kearney Catholic is on the road in Hastings to play Adams Central at 7:00.  In Class ‘C-2’, in a game that can be heard on 106 KIX & 106KIX.com, Oakland/Craig visits Ord at 6:00.  Pregame coverage at 5:40.  Also in ‘C-2’, Archbishop Bergan battles Yutan at Heedum Field in Fremont at 7:00.  In Class ‘D-1’, Tri County hosts Dundy County/Stratton in DeWitt at 6:00 and Burwell goes to Stromsburg to face Cross County at 6:00.  In Class ‘D-2’, Sandhills/Thedford takes on Falls City Sacred Heart in Dunning at 5:00 and Central Valley is in Bruning to play Bruning/Davenport/Shickley at 5:30.  In ‘Six-Man’, Sterling is at Arthur County at 2:30 CDT and McCool Junction takes on Cody-Kilgore at 2:00 CDT.

Tonight:  The Oakland/Craig football team is at Ord for a Class ‘C-2’ semifinal playoff game at 6:00.  Pregame coverage at 5:40 on 106 KIX & 106KIX.com.  Also, Pierce is home versus St. Paul at 6:00 in a Class ‘C-1’ semifinal.  Pregame coverage at 5:20 on 97.5 KEXL & KEXL.com.

Saturday Morning:  Sportstalk on 106 KIX & 106KIX.com from 9:00-10:00 AM live from Hy-Vee West Market Grille.  This week, Joe Tjaden will talk high school football with Pierce’ Mark Brahmer and Oakland/Craig’s Joe Anderson.  Volleyball will be a topic with Lutheran High Northeast’s Kathy Gebhardt, Norfolk Catholic’s Michaela Bellar, Clarkson/Leigh’s Becky Schneider, Columbus Lakeview’s K.C. Belitz, & Chambers/Wheeler Central’s Diane Kasselder.

NFL Scoreboard:  Indianapolis 34 Tennessee 17.

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In other news

A five-run third inning propelled the No. 14 Northeast Community College baseball team to victory on Saturday, defeating North Central Missouri College, 5-3 at David Allen Memorial Ballpark in Enid, Okla. The Hawks (2-6) faced No. 8 Northern Oklahoma College-Enid in the final game of the nig…