RECAP: Westside Waltzes



Photo by James Heldridge

Brendan Preisman, Jay Journal Sports

15 minutes into their matchup against #6 Omaha Westside, #10 Creighton Prep held a 14-6 lead.  The Junior Jays, who came into this season with title aspirations, appeared to be a title contending team.

Slight problem: high school games take 48 minutes.  

Over the last 33 minutes, the Warriors outscored Prep 43-7.  

#6 Omaha Westside (4-1, 1-0 in district play) came into Friday’s game as a very solid team on both ends of the ball.  Juniors RB/CB Avante Dickerson and QB Cole Payton were both having spectacular seasons and Westside was looking to bolster championship hopes of its own.  On Westside’s homecoming weekend, the Warriors came out in their alternate black uniforms to a packed house.  

#10 Creighton Prep (4-1, 0-1 in district) wasn’t fazed.  The team that came back from a 20 point deficit in one quarter was ready to come out swinging.  

After forcing a missed field goal, the Junior Jays drove down the field and senior QB John Coniglio opened up the scoring with a 25 yard strike to senior receiver Alex Bullock.  

Westside put together another good drive, and Payton plowed in from two yards out.  After another missed kick (this one on the extra point), the Junior Jays drove again.  

Coniglio threw his second score of the game to senior receiver Johnny Mcleay from 23 yards out with 9 minutes to go in the half.

Prep had come out and thrown the first punch of the night, and the packed Birdcage was ready to party.

Then Westside punched back.  

Payton rushed for a 72 yard  TD. Then another TD from 12 yards out.  Then he completed the conversion pass. And then he led a near-perfect 2 minute drill to close out the half with a passing score.

Mercifully, the second quarter came to a close.  The score was just 27-14 Warriors, and Prep is a second half team.  Right?

Payton got his 5th and 6th total scores on the ground in the third quarter.  Coniglio tried to respond with his third passing TD to senior WR Mason Armstead, but it was way too little and way too late.

The Warriors got another score from senior RB Bodie Harrell to ice the cake for the raucous home crowd.  

By the time the on-field fireworks started, nearly all the Junior Jays fans were gone.  

Coniglio played nearly as well as he did against Millard North, going 12-25 for 146 yards and the 3 scores.  He also was once again the leading rusher, with 11 rushes for 56 yards. There was some help elsewhere, with Junior RB Vinny Cacioppo only getting 44 yards on 12 carries.  Bullock led all receivers with 4 catches for 69 yards plus the score, and Armstead was not his normal self thanks to great coverage by Dickerson, with only 4 grabs for 32 yards, which included a 13-yard TD.

Prep’s defense once again had quite a few bumps in the road, allowing 544 yards of total offense.  When your team only has 240 total yards, giving up 500-plus will not help you win games.

Westside deserves a lot of credit.  Payton did throw 2 picks, but more than made up for it with 166 passing yards (while going 15-24) and 170 yards on the ground, which is where he got 5 of his touchdowns.  Harrell also had a very good rushing game, with 19 carries for 135 yards and another rushing score. Junior Koby Bretz led the receiving corps, with 7 catches for 85 yards and the lone passing touchdown for the Warriors.  

Next week Prep will travel to Columbus (3-2, 0-1 in district, Last Game: 44-0 L to #7 Elkhorn South) to try and get back on their feet.  Last year the Junior Jays beat Columbus 43-3, and hopefully another win like that is in order. Westside will welcome Omaha Northwest (1-4, 0-1 in district, Last Game: 48-19 L to #3 Millard South) to town and look to maintain the district lead.  

Prep got to 4-0 to start the season, but it was a hard fought battle.  They’ve only beaten one ranked team (Omaha North), and the unranked teams have come very close.  The Junior Jays could have (and maybe should have) lost 3 other games this year. We’re a Joe Boulay pick-six, a fumble recovery, and a missed extra point away from potentially being 1-4.  While 4-1 is 4-1, it would be slightly more comforting if the team could win more games by double digits.

It appears to be a team that could go all the way to Lincoln.  However, I feel that they still need some offensive consistency to keep competing for a state title. 

The team that I saw the last 3 quarters Friday night was not a championship team yet. 

But with experience and improvement, they could be.