Darnell elected to Nebraska eight-man HOF

Staff Writer
Syracuse Journal-Democrat

The Nebraska Eight-Man Football Coaches Association recently announced its Hall of Fame Class of 2020. Eleven players and three coaches are part of the 2020 class.

Former Peru State Bobcat football player Chris Darnell (Auburn/formerly Stella), a player on the outstanding Falls City Sacred Heart football teams, will be among the inductees. Darnell is a 1998 graduate from Peru State.

Induction ceremonies for the new class will be at halftime of the 43rd annual Sertoma Eight-Man all-star game which will be played on June 20 at 6 p.m. at Hastings College.

This is the fourth class inducted into the eight-man football hall of fame, bringing the total number of inductees to 63.

Darnell earned all-state both his junior and senior seasons, as a punter and then quarterback. He was a key player on four consecutive unbeaten Sacred Heart state championship teams from 1989 to 1992. Darnell was named the offensive most valuable player of the 1993 eight-man all-star game.

Regarding his recent honor, Darnell stated, "I am very honored to be inducted into the 2020 class in the Eight-Man Hall of Fame. This class is loaded with some great talent, all of whom were very successful in the sport. I am very grateful for all the opportunities and connections the game has provided me." Continuing, Darnell added, "While I am the one who is being honored, I couldn't have done it without all of my teammates and coaches."

Darnell later played for the Bobcat football program in 1996 and 97. He was a safety for the 'Cats which showed his versatility as a football player. Initially, Darnell signed and played at the University of Northern Colorado before transferring to Peru State to finish his football playing career.

At Peru State, Darnell played for Coach Dick Strittmatter. The Bobcats went 7-3 in 1996 and 6-4 in 1997. The two years were one of the few winning back-to-back seasons since the championship years in late 80's/early 90's.

Other eight-man players being inducted in June include the following players with the schools noted: Larry Frost, Malcolm; Scott Shanle, St. Edward; Andrew Shanle, St. Edward; Wade Edis, Mullen; Josh Cobb, Wallace; Paul Kucera, Lawrence; Corey Anderson, Sandhills; Carl Ostrand, Ansley; Gene Busboom, Adams; and Lance Lundberg, Wausa.

The coaches being inducted include Kevin Mahlberg, Elwood; Andy Vrbka, Shelby/Diller/Clarks/High Plains Community; and Jim Cole, Hayes Center.

Darnell's high school coach Doug Goltz shared the following comments, "Chris was one of the most competitive athletes I've coached.  It didn't matter if it was football, basketball or track – he always played all out.  He was tough, too.  I remember him playing the state championship football game his senior year with a separated shoulder of his throwing arm.  In track he had a hamstring pull that almost kept him out of the district track meet but he qualified and then went on to vault and hurdle at the State Meet scoring in those events and helping us win the state title.  Chris accomplished a lot.  He played in the Nebraska Football Shrine Bowl, he was MVP of the 8-Man All-Star game, and he was part of more Sacred Heart state championship teams than any other athlete in school history – 9 State Medals; 4 Football, 3 Track and 2 Basketball.  Quite a career!"