Brendan Preisman, CP Sports Network

The regular season is drawing to a close, but not before Creighton Prep faces one last top-10 opponent.  The Junior Jays are going up against 9th-ranked Lincoln East on Friday, and there are going to be some fireworks.  Both teams can score well over 30 points a game when given the chance, but both are also gifted with stingy defenses who love getting stops and turnovers.  If anything is certain about this game, it’s this: this game will be entertaining.

The Spartans’ high powered offense is led by senior quarterback Noah Walters.  Walters may be the best-performing quarterback in Class A this year, having thrown for over 2800 yards and 38 touchdowns, compared to only 3 interceptions.  At one point in the middle of the season Walters had 4 straight games in which he threw over 5 touchdowns.  He’s the biggest reason this offense scores over 42 points a game and hasn’t been held below 28 points since the first game of the year.  

Walters isn’t the only reason this offense is so powerful.  Another key player is his primary receiver, senior receiver Cooper Erickson.  Erickson is nearing 1000 yards receiving on the year (he’s at 974 right now) and has also scored 11 touchdowns.  Another important receiver is the junior Malachi Coleman: Coleman has 513 yards and 9 touchdowns on just 14 catches this year.  The run game is less important for this team, although senior Jaelyn Welch has 264 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns on the year, as well as 176 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns.  

On defense, the Spartans are just as explosive.  This is a unit that has forced 13 turnovers and held opponents under 19 points a game.  The main takeaway artist is senior Luke Greisen, who along with 7 touchdowns, has 4 interceptions on the year, which leads the team.  Believe it or not, Coleman is also on the defensive line, and has 5 sacks and 4 forced fumbles on the year.  His speed has been incredibly useful for the team on both sides of the ball this year.  The leading tackler on defense is senior Max Perry, who has 93 tackles and 3 pass deflections.  

Meanwhile, the Junior Jays are a power running team with a dominant defense.  Junior running back Marty Brown has had an incredible season and went over 1000 rushing yards last game, as well as adding 2 touchdowns to his season total of 15.  If by some miracle Brown can’t get going, then senior Jack Stessman, with 352 yards and 7 touchdowns this year, probably can.  And oh yeah, the fullback, George Egan, has 126 yards and 2 touchdowns of his own.  

The passing game is led capably by senior quarterback Jack Piernicky, who is nearing 1000 yards on the year and hasn’t thrown an interception in the past three games.  His favorite target is fellow senior Thomas Leiden, who has 29 catches for 467 yards and 3 of the team’s 8 receiving touchdowns on the year.  The deep threats are junior Pierce Johnson (12 catches, 168 yards) and senior tight end Jack Kirkwood (7 catches, 104 yards).  Piernicky also loves throwing short, and his favorite connection there is senior Trey Olden, who is second on the team in receptions with 13 and has 105 yards and a touchdown on the year.  

On defense, Prep matches a dominant defensive line with a ball-hawking secondary.  The defense has 8 interceptions on the year, with 2 apiece from Asher Anderson and John Pargo (who also blocked a punt for a touchdown earlier this year).  On special teams, Ford Hamilton is the guy who scores the points, and he’s 23/29 on extra points and 3/7 on field goals this year.  

This game pits two teams with high powered (mostly one-dimensional) offenses and very good defenses against each other.  Both teams are on the edge of the elite in Class A this year, and both have a real chance to make a run very deep into the playoffs as well.  The key for Lincoln East is their offense consistently moving downfield without turning the ball over, while for Prep the key is winning the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.  Both teams do appear to have an Achilles’ heel: for the Spartans, it’s their occasionally porous run defense, while for Prep, it’s playing a team that can break an 80 yard touchdown on any drive.  Luckily for the Junior Jays, their run offense is far consistent than Lincoln East’s big-play machine, and that’ll be enough to get them the win.  


My final prediction is 28-24 Creighton Prep.