SEASON RECAP: Prep Football

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Brendan Preisman, CP Sports Network

The Creighton Prep Junior Jays finished their football season last Friday, and despite the 34-20 loss to Millard South, this was a great season for Creighton Prep, no matter what the ending looks like.  Going from a positive coronavirus test, a 1-2 start, and a 26 point deficit to Millard West at the beginning of the fourth quarter, to a 5 game winning streak and an appearance in the state quarterfinal is an impressive achievement no matter how you slice it.  The team’s 6-3 record belies the talent on the roster, and despite all the seniors that suited up for Prep for the last time on Friday, the team is set up well for the future.  

However, before we can look to the future, we first have to look to the very recent past.  Millard South’s incredible quarterback (and Air Force commit) TJ Urban simply could not be stopped by the Prep defense, rushing 26 times for 244 yards and 2 touchdowns as well as throwing for 141 yards and a score.  The Millard South offensive scheme worked to perfection, putting the ball into Urban’s hands and letting him work.  The Prep defense also seemed a few steps behind most of the game, both literally (there were at least 5 plays where a receiver had 5 yards of separation) and figuratively (the defense struggled to stack the box during running situations).  Urban led a very consistent Patriot offense throughout the game, and by the time a run from Christian Nash made the score 28-10, the game was all but over.

One of the big issues with the game was how rough Prep’s offense was playing.  The run game was at best inconsistent, and Jack Stessman only received 4 carries over the entirety of the game.  In total, the Prep offense rushed 20 times for 105 yards (5.3 yards per carry) but didn’t put enough good carries together for great drives until the fourth quarter.  One of the things that I thought would be key was Sam Meysenburg having a great game, and he did (16-29, 205 yards, TD).  However, the same reason that Meysenburg’s efficient game didn’t result in more points is the same reason that the run game couldn’t piece together good carries, only going for 105 yards total: the offensive line struggling.  There were far too many drives that ended with Meysenburg running for his life and desperately looking for someone to throw to.  And despite another great game from Bullock (9 catches, 137 yards, TD), he and the rest of the receiving corps struggled with drops and an inability to get open.  

The true difference in the game was preparation.  Millard South clearly scouted the Prep offense, which has a tendency to get repetitive when it’s not breaking big plays.  On the other side, TJ Urban seemed to find space on almost every play he ran the football, including the final Patriots’ scoring drive (66 yards on 3 carries).  The Junior Jays struggled to win the battle in the trenches, and also were faced with some talented lead blockers for Urban.  

However, the rough finish should not mar what has been an incredible season.  Alex Bullock, of course, played himself into a D-1 scholarship this year with some incredibly consistent play.  Sam Meysenburg took over the starting job and played very well as well, thanks to some stepping up from Bullock and the other receivers.  Jack Stessman also clearly asserted himself as the lead back this year and next during Vinny Cacioppo’s recovery from injury, with some incredible games and the run that flipped the season against Millard West.  

The defense was also flat-out incredible, allowing just 30 points in the final 4 games (and extra quarter against Millard West) leading up to the Millard South game.  Bullock led the team in interceptions by far with 6, seemingly getting one every single game.  The front 7 also stepped up, led by Tony Militti.  Joey Glogowski also stepped up over the second half of the season, garnering 8 tackles in the playoff win over Millard North.  Special teams were also incredible as usual, with Pat Foley making kicks from almost any distance all year.

I must be completely honest here: at the beginning of the year, I thought that Prep would be a fringe playoff team.  I expected a 4-4 or 4-3 (with the cancellation of the Bellevue West game) record leading to a blowout in the first round.  Instead, this team flipped a switch.  They went from struggling to beat teams like Papillion-La Vista to comfortably beating Millard North in the second round of the playoffs.  They got a bye week to start the playoffs, then backed up their 6 seed with a win.  To the Prep coaches and players: The way you all bounced back from adversity made this the most entertaining Prep season I’ve seen.  6-3 with 2 losses to top 3 teams is a great season, and I can’t wait to see how it’s built on next year.