Five Thoughts on Millard South's 46-23 Win Over Omaha Creighton Prep
Photo Credit: Aaron Babcock

Five Thoughts on Millard South’s 46-23 Win Over Omaha Creighton Prep

October 19, 2019

With Greg Smith taking advantage of the bye week for a quick vacation, I I decided to step in for him and get some Hail Varsity boots on the ground on a high school football Friday. I made the drive over to Buell Stadium as Millard South hosted Omaha Creighton Prep on Senior Night.

It was a game of runs as Millard South took an early lead, Creighton Prep battled back, the Junior Jays kept it close and then the Patriots pulled away in the fourth for a 46-23 win. The game was closer than the final score indicates but Millard South was just too much for Creighton Prep in the end.

Millard South improved to 7-1 while the Juniors Jays fell to 6-2.

Here are five thoughts on the game.

Receivers Step Up

Mason Armstead has been Creighton Prep’s best weapon all season long. Heading into the game, Armstead had caught 38 passes for 539 yards and six touchdowns, which is more than Prep’s next three receivers combined in all three categories. He was a big part of Prep’s secondary as well as a two-way player.

The Junior Jays lost Amstead to an injury early in the second quarter on a play that gave Millard South an 18-3 lead. He never returned to the game. Things could have gone really south for Prep from there, but instead the Junior Jays rallied and a couple of pass-catchers stepped up in Armstead’s absence. 

Junior Alex Bullock, who entered Friday night with 11 catches for 132 yards and one touchdown, led the Junior Jays with 10 receptions for 83 yards and two touchdowns, all career-highs. He made some big catches to move the chains on third down in addition to accounting for two of Prep’s three touchdowns, the first of which was a really nice play.

Senior tight end Will Manhart also played an important role. He doubled his season reception total with three catches for 32 yards, and at least two of those receptions moved the chains in important situations.

Home Run Hitters

Millard South has the speed and explosiveness to score from anywhere on the field, and they put that on full display against Creighton Prep. The Patriots had gains of 83, 49, 87, 51 and 75 with four of those plays putting points on the board.

Senior running back Isaiah Harris is one of the best big-play threats in the state with speed to burn once he reaches the second and third levels. He finished with 17 carries for 213 yards, two catches for 80 yards and four total touchdowns. Harris’ first score was an 83-yard run. He got chased down and tripped up at the 5 after a 49-yard gain after that but later delivered the knock-out blow with a 75-yard screen pass on third and 9.

Harris wasn’t the only Patriot who showed off some serious wheels, though. Junior quarterback TJ Urban is deadly with his feet and ran the ball 20 times for 200 yards on Friday night. Urban had touchdown runs of 87 and 51 yards and added one passing touchdown on the screen to Harris.

Creighton Prep’s Resiliency

The Junior Jays have shown some remarkable resiliency this season. Among their six wins this season are a pair of crazy comeback wins, the first against Omaha North (24-21 in overtime) in week one and the second against Millard North (31-30) four. That toughness showed itself again against the Patriots, even if Prep wasn’t able to battle all the way back for the win.

Giving up long touchdowns after backing up the opponent can have a truly demoralizing affect on a defense, but the Junior Jays responded well on multiple occasions. Like I wrote above, Prep lost one of its best players on one of those big plays that put the Patriots up 18-3. The Junior Jays went nowhere on their following possession and gave the ball right back to Millard South.

From there, the Junior Jays proceeded to force a turnover with a fourth-down sack/forced fumble and took advantage of the change in possession to march down the field for a touchdown to cut its deficit to eight. Prep left enough time for Millard South to answer before time ran out, but the Patriots settled for a short field goal attempt, which senior Xzavier Reed blocked.

After everything that happened in the first half, Prep only trailed by one score at the break.

Prep scored on the opening possession of the second half to pull within one and then got another stop, but an interception — just the second of the season for senior quarterback John Coniglio — gave Millard South the ball back at midfield and Urban ripped off a 51-yard touchdown on the following play. A bad snap on a punt gave Millard South even better field position on the next drive — the 19-yard line — and the Patriots capitalized to take a 32-17 lead.

Prep had one last run in it. A 43-yard kick return got things started and Bullock finished it off with a 21-yard touchdown catch. They missed the extra point, but 32-23 was still manageable with most of the fourth quarter to play.

Things were looking good defensively as the Junior Jays had Millard South in third and 9, but that’s when the Patriots hit them with the screen pass that blew the game open, and Prep finally ran out of answers.

Millard South is Stout Up Front

Speed at the skill positions only matters if the big guys up front can open up holes for them, and that’s exactly what the Patriots, led by Wyoming commit Kohl Herbolsheimer, did on Friday night. Harris made some nice moves to evade tackles, but the line did a good job of getting him out into space and letting him do his thing.

On the other side of the ball, Millard South held Creighton Prep to just over 3 yards per carry, making the Junior Jays earn everything they got on the ground. Prep didn’t have much success at all running in Herbolsheimer’s direction. Craig Bohl and the Cowboys landed a good one in the 6-foot-3, 275-pound lineman.

AJ Rollins’ Upside 

Nebraska has offered three in-state players for 2021 to this point and one of them plays for the Junior Jays: tight end/defensive end AJ Rollins.

At 6-foot-6 and 210 pounds, Rollins certainly stands out on the field. He hasn’t been a huge part of Prep’s offense to this point — 12 caches for 163 yards and two touchdowns including Friday’s game — but the upside is evident. Prep rotates him in and out and plays him both in-line and spread out wide. His only catch of the game moved the chains and set up Bullock’s second touchdown.

He also plays a lot on defense where the Junior Jays have him at defensive end. He had a few tackles against Millard South, two of which were run stuffs at or near the line of scrimmage. 

Nebraska is likely looking at Rollins as either a tight end or outside linebacker depending on how he continues to develop. He’s still pretty raw but his frame and athleticism alone are enough to make him a legitimate next-level prospect.

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