Brendan Preisman, CP Sports Network

In the immortal words of former Indianapolis Colts coach Jim Mora: “Playoffs?  Don’t talk about the playoffs!  Are you kidding me?”  However, I have to talk about the playoffs or I will fail my media class, so away we go!

Grand Island is the 11th ranked team in Class A this year, and the way they got there is similar to the way Prep got in last year: a late season surge fueled by some less than adequate opponents.  The Islanders have won their last 4 games, all by more than 11 points, and come into the playoffs at 6-3.  However, none of their opponents over the last 4 games are appearing in the playoffs, so the record may be just a bit inflated.  Their 3 losses are all to playoff teams, so that doesn’t bode well for them.

One thing that does bode well for them is the talent of Kytan Fyfe, who’s arguably one of the 4 best quarterbacks that Prep has faced this year.  Fyfe has over 1900 total yards on the year-1159 passing yards and 727 rushing yards-as well as 21 total touchdowns.  Fyfe is also the team’s punter, and he plays defense as well, with 49 tackles and an interception on the year.

He’s not the only two-way talent on Grand Island.  Running back Ayden McDermott has 268 rushing yards and a fumble recovery, receiver Brandon Fox has 319 receiving yards, 210 kick return yards, and a pick six, and Braxton Mendez has 58 tackles and is 25 of 25 on extra points this year.  There’s also a lot of great receiving talent on this team: Cole Bauer, Will Knuth, Dylan Sextro, and Fox all have over 100 receiving yards on the year.  

On defense, the leaders are Fyfe and Mendez, but there are plenty of other great defenders.  Ben Francl is the leader in tackles, with 79-and 2 for loss, and Dru Hofeldt has 62 tackles of his own.  One of the best ball hawks on the team is Cohen Evans, with an interception and two fumble recoveries.  

For Creighton Prep, they’re somehow on an even hotter streak than the Islanders.  The Junior Jays are now on a 6 game winning streak, and the last game, a 52-7 shellacking of top 10 Lincoln East, is probably the best win of the bunch.  They’re the consensus 4th-best team in Class A right now, but because of two early season losses, they are stuck as the 6 seed in the playoffs.  

Jack Piernicky has been the key to Prep’s streak, avoiding turnovers and efficiently running the offense.  He’s 79/146 for 1010 yards and 8 touchdowns to 6 interceptions on the year.  Of course, his backfield mates have been equally important, but he’ll be without 1000-yard rusher Marty Brown, who’s dealing with an ankle injury.  For this game, Prep will have a “Jack-field” instead of a backfield, with Stessman coming off of a 190 yard, 4 touchdown game.  On the year, Stessman has 69 carries for 542 yards and 11 touchdowns and has proven quite adept in short-yardage situations.  

Defense and special teams have also been key for the Junior Jays this year.  Pierce Johnson, along with 168 receiving yards, has 315 return yards and scored a touchdown against Lincoln East.  John Pargo has been key on both defense and special teams, with 3 interceptions and 2 punt blocks that both resulted in touchdowns.  Prep also has 5 other players with an interception on the year.  

This is the playoffs, and much like in other levels of football, defense and a consistent offense become even more important as the season drags on.  Grand Island has scored 35+ points 5 times this year, but has also scored under 10 twice (both times against playoff teams).  Prep, on the other hand, is giving up just 14.4 points per game, has given up over 21 just twice, and has also scored 20+ points in each game since Westside.  When you factor in that Prep made Noah Walters play his worst game of the season, this game doesn’t feel like it’s going to be too close.  

My final prediction is 31-7 Creighton Prep.