RECAP: Coniglio Leads Prep’s Comeback



Photo by James Heldridge

Brendan Preisman, Jay Journal Sports

#9 Creighton Prep once again had their fans teetering on the brink. The team’s hopes of an undefeated season were on the brink too.

It was 30-10 with just 12 minutes to go in the game, and the Junior Jays looked like they were in deep trouble.

Then senior QB John Coniglio threw a touchdown with 10:50 to go.

Then another with 6:24 to go.

And finally, with 5 seconds left, his 3rd touchdown pass gave the Junior Jays the lead for the first time all night.

The Millard North Mustangs (0-4) entered the game with 3 losses to top 5 teams. They looked much better than their record, though, and Prep found their wishbone triple-option offense difficult to stop. Andrew Bednar, the team’s starting running back, ran for 254 yards on 34 carries and had 2 first half touchdowns.

Creighton Prep (4-0), on the other hand, did not look like a team that averaged 270 yards per game. Prep also got two first-half turnovers and returned one to the 2-yard line, but those only led to 10 points.

In the third quarter, it got worse.

QB Ben Weindel (107 yards on 20 carries) plunged in from 2 yards out to give the Mustangs a 30-10 lead. Despite the missed PAT, Prep’s future appeared bleak.

Then the 4th quarter began.

Coniglio’s first score of the quarter came with just 1:10 gone in the 4th. Prep’s defense then stepped up and got the ball back to Coniglio. The senior continued a terrific final 12 minutes by throwing a 7 yard strike to junior TE AJ Rollins with 6:24 to go.

However, if there’s one thing an option offense is really good at, it’s chewing clock, and a lot of it. With less than 2 minutes to go, Millard North appeared to have the game won when they got a first down at the Prep 15 yard line.

Then the ball came out, and Prep recovered. Coniglio had a minute and a half to go 85 yards, with no timeouts.

It took him a minute and 25 seconds.

The drive was simple. All the Junior Jays needed was 2 completions to senior receiver Mason Armstead (8 catches, 125 yards), 2 pass interference calls on Millard North, 3 scrambles from Coniglio, and then a 6 yard score to senior WR Alex Bullock.

It fell to Pat Foley and his leg to be the hero once again. After the game winner in OT against Omaha North, Foley had another chance for a game winning kick. There was no doubt about the extra point and Prep stole a 31-30 victory.

Head Coach Tim Johnk said “We don’t look at the scoreboard, we keep playing,” and when asked about the 4th quarter turnaround, he said “We just executed better.”

Coniglio solidified his spot as the leader of the offense, going 14-37 for 174 yards and the aforementioned 3 scores. Vinny Cacioppo had another solid game in the rushing column, with 14 carries for 97 yards and 1 score. Aside from Armstead, the leading receiver was Rollins, with 2 catches for 25 yards.

Millard North’s offense was working on Thursday night, finishing with 448 total yards (all of them on the ground). They did all of that with only 3 players carrying the ball: Bednar, Weindel, and senior WR Gabriel Terry, who had 7 carries for 87 yards and a touchdown.

However, they were unable to score in the 4th quarter.

“We kept fighting, played with passion, and trusted the process,” Prep’s defensive coordinator Brian Mohnsen said. “We made a couple of little adjustments and the kids executed them”.

Indeed they did.

Next week Creighton Prep will play #6 Omaha Westside (3-1, Last Game: 41-0 W at Gretna) in the team’s biggest rivalry game of the year. Last year Prep took a tough loss 37-2, but this year is shaping up to be slightly different thanks to the improvement of both Coniglio and the defense. Millard North, on the other hand, will welcome Fremont (3-1, Last Week: 33-13 L to Columbus) to town.

The Mustangs showed everyone that the wishbone triple option will be very difficult to stop for the rest of the season, and they are an opponent that no team should take lightly. Creighton Prep, on the other hand, showed that they don’t know what “this game is over”, “impossible”, or “dead in the water” mean.

If they can bottle up that 4th quarter and play like that for the rest of the season, this team should be able to win a state title. In an excellent game, it was the Junior Jays able to prove themselves in the fires of adversity.