PREISMAN PRE-CAP: Prep Football is Back!


Brendan Preisman, CP Sports Network

It’s always interesting to see how teams rely on seniors, especially those competing for a title.  Last year, Westside rode Avante Dickerson and Cole Payton to an unbeaten record and state title.  This year, it’s 7th-ranked Prep’s turn to ride the seniors as far as they can go.  The team has 8 seniors who started last year, and the man under center to start off the season is also a senior .  Though the faces are different, the goal is the same: beat the teams you’re supposed to beat.  Prep only has 4 opponents ranked ahead of them in the preseason poll, and 2 of those opponents (#5 Lincoln Southeast and #6 Lincoln East) are teams that Prep could easily handle.  How far will the Junior Jays go?  That is entirely up to a few things:  

  1. Quarterback play.  It’s especially important this year given that the rest of the skill positions (especially running back) seem stacked.  Senior Jack Piernicky (a 4 year member of the program) has earned the starting job, but questions remain about his lack of experience at the varsity level.  If Piernicky is able to run the offense and avoid turnovers, Prep should be able to easily make it back into the state playoffs.  
  2. Stopping the run.  Last year, Prep lost 3 games and gave up a combined 681 yards during those games.  It doesn’t get any easier, as Dominic Rezac (last year’s rushing leader) is the first running back the team will face. 
  3. The margins.  A maddeningly nonspecific thing that ends up being maddeningly important.  Broken tackles, penalties, punts inside the 10, 50/50 plays, 3rd and short, all of them are plays that don’t necessarily show up in the stat sheet but are needed to win the game.  Prep lost the margins badly in their losses last year.  If they do so again, there could be trouble.  

Going game-by-game through the schedule, all Prep’s games seem winnable, but almost all of them seem lose-able as well.  Looking at each game, there are only a couple of things that could decide each of them.


Game 1: Westside (12-0, state champs last year)

X-factors: Defensive penetration, quarterback play, turnover battle

Best-case: Jack Piernicky proves to be better than solid, Sam Sledge wreaks havoc, and Jack Stessman runs all over

Worst-case: Piernicky struggles in his first varsity start, Dom Rezac becomes the next unstoppable Westside player, and Prep can’t hold onto the ball

Most likely: 27-20 Prep


Game 2: Papillion La-Vista (2-7, lost in state first round)

X-factors: Offensive line play, punt returns, kicking

Best-case: The defense once again holds, K/P Luke Fenton has a great day, and the offense is clicking. 

Worst-case: the Monarchs win the experience battle, get 5+ sacks, and field goals aren’t enough for Prep

Most likely: 31-14 Prep


Game 3: Bellevue West (7-1, lost in state quarterfinal)

X-factors: Ball security for quarterbacks, Prep’s passing defense, 50+ yard plays 

Best-case: Jack Piernicky wins a shootout, Prep’s secondary picks off a few passes, and Luke Johannsen (Bell West) can’t handle the pass rush 

Worst-case: Johannsen does what he did against Millard South (or Kearney, or Columbus), Piernicky throws a few picks, and Prep can’t break any big plays

Most likely: 35-20 Bell West


Game 4: Lincoln Southeast (8-1, lost in state quarterfinal)

X-factors: Prep stopping Southeast running back Max Buettenback, smart throws, stopping returners

Best-case: Prep’s defense steps up, Prep easily wins the turnover battle, there are no non-offensive touchdowns

Worst-case: Buettenback rushes for 100+ again, Southeast gets a defensive score, and Prep can’t get off the field on 3rd down

Most likely: 28-21 Prep


Game 5: Millard West (2-7, lost in second round)

X-factors: Penalties, QB runs, the residue from last year’s comeback

Best-case: Stessman runs the ball well, the defense contains the quarterbacks, and Prep never has to worry about coming back

Worst-case: Prep can’t stop the scrambles, Millard West plays with an extra intensity, and the receivers can’t get free

Most likely: 42-17 Prep


Game 6: North Platte (6-3, lost in second round)

X-factors:Yards per rush, fumbles, punts/field position

Best-case: Prep easily stops the run, Fenton plays well, and Prep gets a short field for most drives

Worst-case: North Platte consistently moves the ball, Prep’s passing game can’t get going, and the game gets bogged down into smash mouth football

Most likely: 28-3 Prep


Game 7: Lincoln Northeast (0-9, lost in first round)

X-factors: Offense, defense, special teams

Best-case: Prep wins as well as last year

Worst-case: honestly, probably the only game on Prep’s schedule that you can write “W” in pen for

Most likely: 49-0 Prep


Game 8: Papillion South (1-7, lost in first round)

X-factors: Yards per pass, kick returns, red zone stops

Best-case: the linebackers/secondary play really well, Prep gets a couple big plays, and special teams are a nonfactor

Worst-case: the Titans break a few big returns, score touchdowns in the red zone, and shut down Piernicky

Most likely: 35-14 Prep


Game 9: Lincoln East (7-3, lost in state quarterfinals)

X-factors: Passing game, defensive impact plays, kicking 

Best-case: Jack Piernicky plays well, the defense gets a few sacks, and Lincoln East misses a few kicks

Worst-case: Prep can’t stop Noah Walters, special teams become unimportant, and Prep loses the turnover battle

Most likely: 31-28 Prep


The playoffs are more difficult to predict, but a team this talented should do very well.

And so if we look at how the season could go…

Prep final record: 10-2, loss in state semis

We’ve got a fun year ahead of us.