Preisman Recap: Big Plays Doom Junior Jays, But Lots Of Positives


Brendan Priesman, CP Sports Network

There was a very good chance the Prep-Bellevue West game could have easily been a rehash of the Westside game.  Prep came out of the gates ready to compete, but a few momentum killing plays appeared to put the game out of reach.  However, the game didn’t turn into a blowout for one reason: Prep didn’t let it.  After an explosive first quarter that involved 4 Bell West plays of 30+ yards, Prep was down 21-6.  It almost got worse after another Bell West touchdown that made it 21-6, but then Jack Piernicky took over.  He threw a long touchdown to Thomas Leiden, then led two more scoring drives that made the final score just 28-22, and suddenly saying that Bellevue West held on wasn’t so crazy anymore.  

Even the seemingly bad stats from this game don’t tell the whole story.  Bellevue West’s dynamic running back LJ Richardson had 197 rushing yards on 25 carries, but a good chunk of that yardage came in the first half off of chunk plays.  For the first time all year, he was somewhat contained, and his quarterbacks were as well.  Luke Johannsen was 11/17 for 208 yards, but minus his two longest throws was just 9/15 for just 126 yards, while Daniel Kaelin was 5/10 for 53 yards if not for TK Barnett taking a screen pass 66 yards to the house.

The offense was also encouraging, scoring 22 points against a team that hadn’t given up more than 14 yet this year.  Jack Piernicky continued his improvement, going 19/37 for 204 yards.  He’s developed a really nice connection with Thomas Leiden over recent weeks, and Leiden had 8 catches for 122 yards and a touchdown.  

Prep is set up for a very tight game this Thursday against Lincoln Southeast.  The Knights are #4 in Class A right now, but not even in the same stratosphere as Bellevue West when it comes to explosive plays (though almost nobody is).  If Prep is able to string together some solid drives for four quarters and fix some of the tackling issues, they should be a formidable opponent for anyone the rest of the season.  

Sure, this game was a loss.  But it was, in the parlance of the College Football Playoff, a “quality loss”.  And maybe, after Week 3 of the season, against the best team in the state by far, that’s a pretty good thing to have.  There’s also the fact that the Junior Jays have now gotten over the toughest part of their schedule, with just 2 ranked teams left on the schedule.  It should be a fun rest of the season.