Preisman Pre-Cap: Columbus


Photo by James Heldridge

Brendan Preisman, Jay Journal Sports

The #10 Creighton Prep Junior Jays (4-1, 0-1 District) prepare to bounce back against Columbus (3-2, 0-1 District).  Last year, Prep crushed the Discoverers 43-3. This is what to watch for:

The Discoverers have had a fairly easy schedule (only 1 top-10 team) but have been unable to capitalize and are stuck at 3-2.  Don’t let their record fool you, though. This team may not be very deep, but its starters are very talented and a couple of players have really stepped up so far this season.  

The Discoverers are a running team, and their leading rusher is  RB Joseph Braasch. The senior RB has 61 carries for 410 yards and 6 TDs.  He also has 5 catches for 50 yards and 1 TD. The other running back for Columbus is Garrett Esch, who has 38 carries for 264 yards and 2 TDs, as well as 5 receptions for 157 yards and a TD. 

They can also air the ball out as well thanks to junior QB CJ Fleeman.  Fleeman is 43-88 (48.9%) for 610 yards, 2 TDs, and 4 INTs. However, Fleeman hasn’t been able to run the ball at all this season, with 18 carries for -64 yards.  Fleeman’s main beneficiary through the air is Landon Thompson, who has 22 catches for 324 yards and a score. 

Creighton Prep suffered a 49-21 loss last week against rival #6 Westside.  They currently sit at 4-1 and are in the thick of the playoff hunt. A district win over the Discoverers would go a long way for playoff seeding.  The Junior Jays want to put last week behind them, and they’ve got the players to do that.  

Prep is led by senior QB John Coniglio, who is having an excellent season through the air and on the ground.  He is 61-120 (50.8%) for 727 yards, with 12 TDs and 0 INTs. Coniglio has also contributed on the ground, with 50 carries for 203 yards and another TD.  Coniglio has proven to be unshakeable so far this season, and Prep seems to always be in it with him under center.

Prep likes to pound the ball in the ground game too.  Junior running back Vinny Cacioppo is the guy who (other than Coniglio) has run the ball the most.  He currently has 46 carries for 266 yards and 2 scores. Unfortunately, behind Coniglio and Cacioppo, the ground game is iffy, with backup quarterback Brayden Woodward 3rd on the team in rush yards, despite having just 55 yards on the season.

Senior wide receiver Mason Armstead is the #1 guy in the receiving corps, with 27 receptions for 357 yards and 4 TDs.  He’s Coniglio’s favorite target and has developed a very solid reputation in the red zone. Another receiver who has distinguished themselves is junior Alex Bullock.  He has just 10 receptions, but has taken them for 118 yards and a TD. Prep’s offense has no need to worry when these players are on a hot streak.

The real question is how the Junior Jays’ offense (26.4 ppg) will match up against the Wanderers’ defense (25.8 points given up per game).  If Columbus’ secondary can’t keep up with Prep’s receivers, they’ll be in for a long night. Against Columbus, Elkhorn only threw 17 passes, but they managed 173 yards and 3 TDs through the air.  

Both these teams could really use this win. Prep needs a morale boost and Columbus needs to keep their playoff hopes alive.  This is shaping up to be another hard-fought matchup.

Prep has the added motivation coming off of a big loss against Westside.  This team wants to go out and hit somebody, and Columbus is where they’ll have a chance to do it.  It will be a tight game most of the way, but Prep will pull away late to win.

My final prediction is 31-21 Creighton Prep.