RECAP: Backfield Boosts Birds to Big Win


Brendan Priesman, CP Sports Network

On Homecoming night, there was one thing that stuck out.  Whether it was Jack Stessman running wild over the team that he seems to hate the most, Prep linebackers basically living in the backfield, or the way Prep responded whenever they needed a big play, my constant mantra was: This team looks really good.  This isn’t the same team that lost to Westside, or even the same team that almost beat Bellevue West.  This is a team that has serious title aspirations, and they showed it in a 42-24 win (that was 28-6 before garbage time set in) over North Platte.  

It started (as Prep wins normally do) with a great running game.  Marty Brown continues to play like a Heisman candidate, and he now has 3 games with over 100 rushing yards.  Since we don’t give out the Heisman, let’s give out the Preisman Trophy instead.  Brown’s currently leading in that race, but he’s got some competition.  The feature back for the Junior Jays Friday night was Jack Stessman, who had a performance reminiscent of his spectacular junior year, with 97 rushing yards and a trifecta of touchdowns.  His best play of the night was a 67 yard scamper to put Prep up 28-6 and slam the door firmly closed on any possible North Platte comeback.  

The defense also played incredibly well (don’t let the final score fool you).  Jonah Moore is fully back, as he showed with a beautiful interception in the second half.  John Pargo also showed his ball-hawking skills with an interception (yes, another one) at the end of the first half which he almost broke for a big return.  The front seven stepped up as well, with Ryan Kearney and Michael Barrett combining for 6 tackles for loss.  Rocco Marcelino, Kyle Mundt, and Michael Palmesano were all flying around the field as well.  

There are zero complaints from my end after the game.  Even the one blemish (24 points) can be explained by the fact that both teams were thinking of the ride home starting early in the third quarter.  Even the quarterback play and kicking (both facets of the game that have hurt Prep in the past) were basically perfect.  Jack Piernicky had the best game of his career with 13/19 passing for 136 yards and a score, and, most importantly, no turnovers.  Piernicky now also has his highest completion percentage when throwing over 10 passes, at 68.4%, and appears to have turned a corner heading into the home stretch of the season.  Ford Hamilton was perfect on extra points while also tying a career high in extra points made with 6.  

The best types of games are the ones where you can dominate for three quarters, then watch your backups work for the rest of the night.  That was Prep on Friday night, and it was a beauty to watch.  Even better, the next two opponents for the Junior Jays currently sit at 2-4, so we should get to see a lot more of the backups as Prep fights for prime playoff seeding.  When you look at the way this season started, that makes this weekend look like a very happy homecoming indeed.