Old Omaha: Henry Fonda’s School, Dear Old ‘I-back High’

IBack High

Before Nebraska became the 38th state in 1867, it was Nebraska Territory, and Omaha was the capitol. When the state capitol moved to Lincoln, the old capitol building (above left) on a hilltop near midtown became Omaha High School — now Omaha Central High School. In the football world, Omaha Central is known as “I-back High” because of the long string of I-formation running backs who wore the Central Eagles’ purple before going on to fame in college and the National Football League. Perhaps the best known Central High running back is Hall-of-Famer Gale Sayers of the Chicago Bears. Central has produced two Green Bay Packer running backs, Ahman Green and Calvin Jones. Another NFL running back, Keith Jones graduated from Central. They weren’t running backs, but Central gridders Larry Station, Brandon Williams and Bobby Robertson had NFL careers. Ironically, “I-back High” is perhaps best known for the graduates who built distinguished careers in the arts: Actor Henry Fonda went to Central as did 1940s-1950s R&B and rock pioneer Wynonie Harris. Central also produced American philosopher and Princeton University faculty member Saul Kripke. Omaha billionaire Warren Buffett knows a great school when he sees one: His son Peter and daughter Susan Alice are Omaha Central alums. Central boasts one of the sweetest urban high school football stadiums you’ll ever see, Seemann Stadium, pictured on the right above.