After a lengthy absence, Lincoln High School football is back.
In 2016, the Links went 5-4 during the regular season, their first winning record in 12 years. Lincoln High also made the Nebraska state playoffs for the first time in 12 years.
Not suprisingly, NFA Nation is beaming with pride over the Links’ successful showing. And there is equal pride in Cedric Case, who was Lincoln High’s starting quarterback as a sophomore, and Chad Case, who is the Links’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
“The 2015 season was my first year as offensive coordinator at Lincoln High,” said Chad Case, who is also NFA’s national director of nutrition and a certified QB coach. “We went 4-5 and that was a big accomplishment because it was the most wins we had in over a decade. We had been on some pretty hard times at Lincoln High. This past season, we had graduated quite a few seniors and we knew we had a strong group of kids coming back, a lot of talent, but we were going to be really young. Thankfully, we had a strong group of seniors pick up where last year’s seniors left off. They were great leaders for us this year.”
How young was Lincoln High in 2016? The Links started a total of 11 sophomores throughout the season on both sides of the ball.
“That is a lot of sophomores, and varsity football is meant for juniors and seniors,” Chad said. “But as far as expectations, I felt very confident. That group of sophomores, a lot of them were on the Silverbacks, and 16 of them came to Lincoln High with 11 becoming varsity starters.”
Chad Case coached the Star City Silverbacks, a Lincoln select football team, to national championship wins in 2013 and ’14.
“This past season, it was surreal to watch these young men I was coaching as 7- and 8-year olds, suddenly they’re playing varsity football,” Chad said. “I felt confident that we could compete and I thought, kind of quietly to myself, a goal I had in my mind was to see if we could make a run at the playoffs.”
It wasn’t looking too promising early when the Links lost their first three games, but Chad Case never stopped believing.
“I think a lot of that was the fact that we were so young,” he said. “We just had to keep our wits about ourselves, try to find ourselves as a team. I think it took those first three games to find out out who we were and be able to play with confidence. Once we started to really believe in what we were doing, the kids started playing fast and I think we as a coaching staff got better at identifying what our strengths were and we really started rolling after that.”
Cedric Case provided a huge spark, completing an astounding 133 of 197 pass attempts for 1,880 yards and 19 touchdowns. Equally impressive, the 6-foot-0, 165-pounder was intercepted just five times.
“I’m not surprised because I had been preparing to do those sort of things,” Cedric Case said. “I’ve been putting in the work in to do it and I was surrounded by a great group of backs and receivers and a great offensive line that really stepped up. We had a pretty young o-line, an inexperienced o-line who people were worried about. But they stepped up, matured quickly and they did a great job. They made my job so much easier. I had a lot of good coaching around me, too, so I wasn’t surprised because I felt I was prepared each and every week to execute our game plan.”
Saving his best for last, Cedric passed for 375 yards and 5 touchdowns in Lincoln High’s playoff game, a 55-34 loss to undefeated and eventual state champ Bellevue West.
“It was great to be a part of that, one because our school hadn’t seen that kind of success in a long time and two because my teammates really deserved it,” Cedric said. “We had been working for it all summer and it was great to see the seniors on our team finally get to the playoffs and our head coach (Mark Macke) finally get to the playoffs, Our school hadn’t done that in over a decade. I was proud of that and my teammates made it a whole lot easier on me.”
When the season was in the books, Lincoln High School ranked second in the state in passing, fourth in total yardage and fifth in scoring. In 2015, the Links ranked 20th in Nebraska in passing, 19th in total yardage and 20th in scoring.
Cedric Case broke four single-season school records in 2016 – passing yards, passing TDs, completions and completion percentage (.675).
“Obviously, as a father it’s pretty powerful to watch your son go out there and play and play so well,” Chad Case said. “The thing I’ve become so appreciative of in regards to Cedric is the way that he leads and who he is to his teammates. Those are things that are going to carry through the rest of your life. And that’s what is so wonderful about being with NFA, the men that he’s learned from. Obviously, as his father, I’d like to think I’ve had something to do with that, but it’s good to know he’s had these wonderful men in his life that are helping him to aspire to who he wants to become. It’s pretty powerful. To watch him on the field competing, it’s been one of those things where admittedly, I’ve become very accustomed to watching him perform well in pressure moments. But he just did a wonderful job and it was a lot of fun to watch.”
Chad Case is a veteran presence with NFA, and Cedric has been training with NFA since he was 9 years old.
“NFA is the base of where I learned everthing,” said Cedric, who finished fourth at the Duel among incoming sophomores last July. “Just going through that process with all the different coaches and flying around the nation and gettng to learn all these different tools, it just made me a better quarterback and a better leader and a better person.”
Both Cedric and Chad Case learned the R4 System through NFA, and the results showed this past season at Lincoln High.
“We started using the R4 at Lincoln High two years ago, my first year as the offensive coordinator,” Chad Case said. “I felt like we did a good job for Year 1, when it was all for the pass game. But I tend to be a perfectionist, and I truly want to be the best coach I can be. After that first season, I attended every R4 clinic Dub (Maddox) put on that I could get to. I traveled all over the country just so I could be a student and learn and I came back to Lincoln and started working with the coaches on the staff as far as how we were going to use it in our game-planning process. It was a game-changer. I’m actually really looking forward to going into Year 2 of using the R4 game-planning process because what I found this past season was it streamlined everything we were doing as far as game-prep, breaking down film, communication, having the same common language, being able to identify space.
“What I really liked is as the year progressed we were so much more efficient in our communication and also the players and coaches were all talking the same language,” Chad continued. “As a group, we were beginning to see the same things. It made play-calling so much easier because when we were on the sidelines and we’re making adjustments in game, and you don’t have a lot of time to do it, we were a lot more efficient.”
Cedric Case learned the R4 System during his NFA training and he also helped his teammates unleash its impressive results.
“It really helped,” Cedric said. “It helped everyone understand their position better. As a quarterback knowing the R4 system, I was able to explain to each of my receivers how they could use the R4 System, too. We started using it in the summer and we got more and more in depth into the fall. It made everything a lot easier for everybody on the team.”
JC Boice, NFA’s senior quarterbacks instructor, QB evaluations coordinator and director of business development and strategic alliances, had a strong feeling Chad and Cedric Case would make a major impact on Lincoln High’s varsity football program.
“NFA has a special relationship with Chad and Cedric Case,” Boice said. “We met them in Kansas City, Missouri when Cedric was in fifth grade. Initially, our relationship with them was our normal partnership we have with a player and his parents. It was soon very clear to us that Chad’s coaching career was going to accelerate and he showed a strong interest to incorporate NFA methodology into his coaching approach. Chad is the type of coach, and Cedric is the type of player, we love working with. They are very family-oriented, hard-working and willing to go the extra mile to do things the right way.
“It has been awesome,” Boice continued. “NFA has definitely made Cedric a better quarterback and helped assist Chad in becoming a more impacting coach while they have both made meaningful contributions that have benefited NFA and the NFA family. Chad is now our director of performance nutrition and is doing an outstanding job helping athletes develop healthy lifestyle patterns to maximize potential. Chad has also been an early adopter of NFA’s R4 System. That has helped power the incredibly explosive offense that Chad is operating at Lincoln High. I think the relationship has been a great testament to how good it can be when we can work with good people in a cooperative manner to create better opportunity in the game of football.”
As he looks forward to his junior season with the Links, Cedric Case is looking to be even better than he was as a standout sophomore.
“I want to become more of a run threat,” he said. “I’m working on becoming faster and I feel like I can help my team more if I can become more mobile outside of the pocket. I think that will come as I become bigger and stronger. I also want to become more and more of a leader. As a sophomore, it can be kind of challenging to step up and lead a lot of seniors and older guys. But my coaches have challenged me to become even more of a leader than I was last season.”
Cedric Case is a talented young quarterback in Lincoln, Nebraska, and he has a knack for winning football games. Lots of football games.
But Case is not interested in talking about his role in the success of the Star City Silverbacks, a team he helped lead to an 88-5-1 record and two straight national championships.
Case is similarly not interested in talking about his individual accomplishments this season. As the starting quarterback for the Lincoln High School freshman team, Case and the Links got off to a 4-0 start.
Not only was Lincoln averaging around 56 points per game on offense, the defense opened the season with four straight shutouts.
“It’s not about me, but our school is doing great so far,” Case said. “Our team is playing really well and it’s all about how I can help my team win.”
John Goodwin is the freshman head coach and he’s thrilled to have Case under center for the Links, even if it is only for one season.
“Cedric Case was put on this Earth to lead,” Goodwin said. “For our team, he is the eye of the hurricane, which is the calmest part of the storm. In the middle of the chaos, he’s calm, cool and collected. Cedric competes his tail off and leads his team.”
Case has been playing with most of his freshmen teammates since he was a young kid still learning the game. “It’s a good thing,” he said. “I’ve been blessed to play with the same guys since I was 7, 8 years old, so we have a lot of team chemistry. Moving into high school, it’s been great, getting that first year under our belt. We’re playing against guys that are a lot bigger, more mature at this level. It’s just good to see this and experience it first.”
While he doesn’t like taking any individual credit, Case has undoubtedly helped make Lincoln’s offense roll this season. “I’m really happy,” said the 5-foot-7, 130 pounder. “I feel like I get better by going against my teammates in practice. They give me some of the best looks, so that going into a game it makes the reads a lot easier. I feel like I’ve matured a lot mentally with my decision making and practice makes the games a lot easier.”
Case is thrilled to be the QB of such a high potent offense. “My O line does a great job, and I’m not the saying that to sound like I’m being humble,” he said. “I’m being for real when I say that these guys are great every day and they work and work and work so hard. You can see it in the film and you can see it every time they line up. They make my job a lot easier.”
Down the road, Case has positioned himself to emerge as the starting varsity quarterback job at Lincoln.
“Cedric is a QB in our program with many skills far beyond most freshman quarterbacks,” said Mark Macke, the Links’ head varsity coach. “His knowledge of the game and the ability to read coverages serves him well. Not only does he understand the nuances of our offense, he is able to help direct his teammates so that they as well understand our various concepts. Cedric has a very bright future as a quarterback. More importantly, he is an outstanding teammate that is upbeat and positive.
“He is a very accurate passer, outstanding with ball fakes and he continues to improve. I have very high expectations for Cedric as he moves forward in our football program. Lastly, and certainly not least, is the fact that Cedric is a very good student. Cedric takes his academics very serious, as he gets top grades at Lincoln High School.”
Case, a straight-A student who was voted team captain of the freshman team, has been training with NFA for the last six years. His father, Chad, is NFA’s National Director of Nutrition and a veteran coach.
“NFA is where I’ve learned everything,” Cedric Case said. “I went to my first camp when I was 9 years old and thinking that you know a little bit of something. When I was walking out my dad asked me, ‘What do you need to do? What to do you need to improve?’ I said, ‘I need to learn how to throw the football.’ They changed everything and now I feel confident and it’s comfortable. They taught me how to read defenses, footwork, every aspect of the game. If it wasn’t for NFA I don’t think I’d be in the position I am today.”
Keyuo Craver, a former NFL player, a Nebraska Husker Hall of Famer and currently Lincoln High’s defensive backs coach, is already impressed with Case.
“Cedric is definitely a special athlete,” Craver said. “His preparation and work ethic are outstanding and he always keeps a positive atittude on the field. He has great presence in the pocket and also has a great quick release. Most importantly. Cedric is humble and coachable and this will definitely take him far in life.”
Stunning season for Cedric Case, Silver City
In addition to serving as NFA’s National Director of Nutrition and educating all of the program’s athletes on nutrition, supplementation, nutrient utilization and customized meal planning, Chad Case serves as a certified QBA Coach with NFA. He also coaches the Star City Silverbacks in Lincoln, Neb., and is coming off a remarkable season.
Before the first football was snapped, Case had a feeling his 12U team was something special. “I wanted to step out and do things differently,” he said. “I wanted to offer what I think is a more complete curriculum and more year-round support for the athlete, which isn’t really done a lot around here. A year ago, I formed Star City Select, and this was our first year of football.”
Case coached youth football for five seasons before starting Star City Select, and 15 of his former players joined the Silverbacks. “With those 15 kids, we lost only three times in last five years,” Case said. “We went 52-3-1. What we experienced in the past was we had a great nucleus of talent, kids with really high football IQs. It’s kids that are really thirsty for even more teaching so it was wonderful to work with them in that regard. And then to go out and add kids that had those same desires, we just had a more complete roster, top to bottom. In the past when you’d take out your first-string players, your starters so to speak, and you’d run in your backups, we were running out kids that were just as talented as the quote, unquote starters. There really wasn’t much of a drop-off and what that meant for us, in the past we were winning games 35-0, 40-0. Now all of the sudden we were putting up 50, 60 points and it wasn’t a situation where we were trying to run up the score. We just had very talented kids that were able to execute.”
To go along with his 15 holdovers, Case added nine new players this season. “We went out and held combines, and a free clinic really helped identify other kids in and around Lincoln,” Case said. “It worked out really well.”
What made the season even more enjoyable for Case was applying what he’s learned from his experiences with NFA. “A lot of it came from NFA, just seeing how we handle camps and how we teach kids and using that curriculum base,” he said. “(NFA Coach) JC Boice came down this past summer and helped install R4 for the Silverbacks and we have used it in our pass game exclusively. Mike Barry, the renowned offensive line coach, came and taught the Silverbacks the inside zone, as we transitioned from a man scheme to zone scheme and absolutely loved the simplicity and effectiveness allowing us to run no huddle, taking the guesswork out of it and allowing the boys to play fast.”
Star City played smart, fast and extremely well. After an impressive undefeated regular season (9-0) that crowned them as regular season champs in the Heartland Youth Football League, the Silverbacks continued on by winning the league playoffs and title game, finishing Heartland play 11-0. During the incredible stretch of 11 games, the Silverbacks averaged over 50 points per game and went unscored upon.
Stepping up in class
After wrapping up the league championship, Star City traveled to Kansas City for the Tournament of Champions, playing teams an age group older. Despite the age difference, the Silverbacks won their first game in regionals, 47-0, while improving their overall record to 12-0. Silver City lost the next game 18-8 to the Next Level All-Stars, a powerhouse team comprised of players from Missouri and Kansas.
“We were playing up in age and especially right now, at 12, 13 and 14, so many kids have entered puberty, so many have not, so the teams we were playing against, they looked like grown men,” Case said. “It was really tough opposition. We won the first game 47-0 and in the loss, we were ahead when one of our players dislocated his hip. Looking at our sidelines, these young men were tearing up because that’s their buddy and he gets hurt and is being carried off on a stretcher. I think we lost our zest a little and ended up losing. In realty, that was probably the best thing because we had just mowed through the regular season and the playoffs so convincingly that it kind of kept us in check. We knew we had to keep working, keep grinding going into Vegas.”
The Silverbacks traveled to Las Vegas to play in the National Youth Football Championships over Thanksgiving. They opened with a 19-6 victory over the Paramount (Calif.) Pirates. “It was incredible,” Case said. “To go to Las Vegas and play on a national stage, and play a team out of South Central Los Angeles, it was quite an experience. I know the first game, the players might have been questioning themselves, asking if the could really compete on this level. It’s one thing to play kids you know and defeat them, but to get out of your comfort zone and to have to stretch yourself in that way, to go to a field you’re not accustomed to, to be in a city that many of them had never been to, to play an opponent you’ve never played, very, very talented opponents at that, and then to go out there and compete and succeed, it was tremendously rewarding.”
Advancing to the national title game in Vegas, Silver City beat the defending national champs, Red Creek Nation (Colo.) 37-13 to an unforgettable 14-1 season. For the year, the Silverbacks averaged over 47 points a game while yielding just 37 the entire season to go with 10 shutouts.
“We passed the ball quite a bit,” Case said. “We had a very good passing game, and that made us a truly two-dimensional team where most youth teams, even junior high teams, are so run heavy. We actually were about 55-45 percent. We ran the ball about 55 percent of the time and threw about 45 percent throughout the entire season, even in the bigger matchups. In the championship game, all five of our offensive touchdowns were through the air.”
Silver City rushed for 2,520 yards on the season, averaging over 9 yards per carry, and had 40 rushing touchdowns. On the passing side, Cedric Case threw for 2,335 yards, completing almost 75 percent of his throws (131 for 177). He also had 39 TD passes and two interceptions.
Cedric Case is Chad’s son, but he earned his spot as Silver City’s starting quarterback. “He probably catches it harder from me in practice than the other players because I don’t ever want it to come across that he’s getting any kind of special treatment whatsoever,” Chad Case said. “To his credit, he started attending NFA camps when he was nine years old and I’ll never forget the first camp. He couldn’t figure out not to hop on a three-step drop and he was so frustrated with it, he broke down in tears. But Coach Boice was there and he took him off to the side and put his arm around him and talked to him. Everybody kept working with him and before you knew it, he got it. On the way home I remember asking him how he like it and he said, ‘I liked it, and I learned I don’t know how to throw a football. I have to learn how to throw a football correctly.’
“Ever since then, we’ve been attending NFA camps, and to see him develop these relationships with these gentlemen that I have such high regard for, I feel truly blessed that he’s getting that type of tutelage, not only football but what we’re called upon to do as men. I’ve really watched him mature. He’s still 12 years old; he’s still going to make mistakes, but I’ve watched him mature dramatically over the past few years and I know in my heart that a lot of it has to do with the men that he’s met through the NFA. There are guys like Kyle Miller, who still takes time out of his day to text him. The morning of the championship games, I had guys like Kyle and Reid Roe and Dub (Maddox) and Will (Hewlett) and JC all texting him and wishing him good luck. It’s just incredible to be a part of that.”
Attending NFA camps obviously helped Cedric Case elevate his overall game. “As far as his play on the field, it’s been very rewarding as a coach to know you have a quarterback that has a very good grasp on the offense,” Chad Case said. “It’s a luxury. For him to be able to identify coverages and change plays if need be, this year I really loosened things up a lot and gave him a lot of control at the line of scrimmage just to help him in his development. He really handled that well. I did have concerns heading into the championship game – would the moment be too big for him? He can up to me right before the game started and said, ‘I want to throw it all day coach.’ I silently got a smile on my face because I knew he was feeling good.”
Cedric Case put up monster numbers during a memorable season, not that he even noticed. “Make sure to credit my team, because this isn’t about me,” Cedric Case said. “My O-line was awesome, they protected me all year, and my backs and receivers are unreal. They made my job easy.”