Preisman Pre-Cap: Elkhorn South

Brendan Preisman, Jay Journal Sports

The #10 Creighton Prep Junior Jays (6-2, 2-2 in District, Last Game: 46-23 L at Millard South) prepare to close out the regular season against the #9 Elkhorn South Storm (5-3, 2-2 in District, Last Game: 76-7 W over Omaha Northwest).  Last year the Storm squeaked by the Junior Jays, winning 21-20. This is what to watch for: 

Elkhorn South has already played against #1, #3 and #6 in Class A this year, losing all of those games.  Luckily, they’ve capitalized on the fact that no other team they’ve played has a winning record, winning by an average of 42.6 points per game.  The team defense has also played outstandingly well, giving up just 17.6 points per game all year.

The Storm clearly have a potent offense and a great defense, and there’s a reason they’re 9th in Class A.  This team has quite a few talented players that Prep will need to watch out for on Friday night.

The team’s starting quarterback is senior Elliott Brown.  Brown is a solid passer who is 70-117 for 1020 yards and 10 TDs.  However, he can also get scatter-armed, as shown by his 8 interceptions on the year.  Brown has also run the ball 70 times for 312 yards and 3 TDs.  

The starting running back for Elkhorn South is also a senior, Eli Hustad.  Hustad is a very good runner, with 101 carries for 627 yards and 10 TDs. However, he can do a lot of damage receiving as well.  Hustad has 26 catches for 486 yards and 7 TDs. If he can get out in space, good luck.

The running back is the leading receiver for this team, but he’s not the only guy who can catch the football.  The best wide receiver on this team is junior Trevor Winterstein. On the year, he’s snagged just 8 throws, but he’s taken them for 134 yards and 2 TDs.

The Elkhorn South defense is excellent, especially at taking the ball away.  On the year, they’ve forced 13 turnovers (including 7 interceptions) and they’ve also blocked 3 kicks.  Prep is going to need to take care of the ball against these guys.

Last week the Junior Jays took a tough loss to Millard South.  However, they’re currently 6-2 and sitting at 8th in Class A for playoff seeding, so the loss isn’t too much of a setback.  Both Prep and Elkhorn South have had some trouble against highly ranked teams, but they are about on each other’s level. This should be a very entertaining game. 

The Junior Jays’ undisputed offensive leader is senior quarterback John Coniglio.  He’s had an excellent year, going 114-209 for 1306 yards and 17 TDs against just 2 interceptions.  Coniglio’s also helped in the ground game, with 70 carries for 233 yards and 1 TD.  

The team’s leading rusher is junior running back Vinny Cacioppo.  Cacioppo has used his carries well, with 81 of them going for 504 yards and 4 TDs.  He also caught his first pass of the season against Millard South, and now has 1 catch for 3 yards.  The team also has a runner for short yardage plays, and that’s senior quarterback Brayden Woodward. Woodward has rushed 29 times for 193 yards and 4 TDs.  

Prep’s best wide receiver is, without a doubt, Mason Armstead. On the year, Armstead has 39 catches for 550 yards and 6 TDs.  If Elkhorn South can’t cover him, they’ll be in for a long night. Another good receiver for Prep is junior Alex Bullock. Bullock has snagged 21 passes for 220 yards, and he’s also scored a touchdown.  

Prep’s defense (19.6 points per game allowed) is perhaps even better than Elkhorn South’s.  The Junior Jays have picked off 10 passes so far this year, and returned them for a total of 301 yards, which sets the offense up very nicely.  Prep has also recovered 2 fumbles on the year and is allowing just 4.4 points per game in the 4th quarter, which has helped the offense put together amazing comebacks.

Both of these teams believe that they can do well deep into the playoffs, and perhaps both can.  These teams are almost evenly matched, with dual-threat quarterbacks and tremendous defenses alike.  However, Coniglio appears much less shaky than Brown, and Prep’s defense loves to pick errant passes off.  So far this year, Prep has won 3 games at home. On Friday night, they’re going to make it 4. 

My final prediction is 27-20 Creighton Prep.