Creighton Prep QB Reid Burke (#14, white) surveys the Kearney defense. The Bearcats defeated Prep 24-7 Friday night.
KEARNEY---Kearney head coach Brandon Cool had to be concerned when star quarterback Kanon Koster went down with a knee injury early in the game. Backup QB Brayden Miller erased that concern in a Bearcat hurry.
It didn’t take long for Miller, a 5-10, 182 pound junior, to break the ice once he got a feel for the action. Coming in cold, after throwing only 3 passes in 5 games this season, Miller almost immediately lofted a perfect 33 yard scoring strike to speedy Isaiah Stalbird, giving Kearney a lead they never relinquished.
Class A No. 5 Creighton Prep and the Bearcats put on quite the defensive show in the first quarter. Prep stuffed Kearney’s leading rusher, Matt Stute to a 4 yards on 3 carries nightmare. The Cats were equally effective against Preps passing game, keeping the relentlessness pressure on sophomore quarterback Reid Burke, who suffered through a 1 for 6 opening half performance with an interception thrown in there.
But it was Kearney High’s Brayden Miller, who looked very sharp in pre-game warmups, who came in to give Kearney the lift they needed on Senior Night. The 33 yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Stalbird gave the Bearcats the 7-0 lead, but first year Prep coach Tim Johnk had an answer for that one on the Junior Jays following possession.
Give 240 pound fullback Luke Sims the football……...lots of times.
And that is exactly what Prep did. Sims carried every down, all 9 of them for 64 yards, straight down the field, shedding Kearney tacklers and punishing them with yards after contact and an Excedrin headache to go along with it.
But the Bearcats also had a remedy for that once Creighton Prep/Luke Sims had worked their way to the Bearcat 4 yard line, setting up a 1st and goal. Three pops into the stout Kearney High defense netted just 3 yards. Then came the demoralizer for the Junior Jays.
On a the 4th and goal, the interior of the Kearney defense crashed through the Prep front line, causing Sims to cough up the football. All-State candidate Lee Harrington recovered the loose ball back at the Bearcat four. Damage done.
Gabe Heins added a 38 yard field right before halftime to give Kearney a 10-0 advantage. The field goal was set up when Isaiah Stalbird picked off a Reid Burke pass at the Prep 31.
Brandon Cool also turned loose lightning fast sophomore Miko Maessner in the first half when it was apparent Creighton Prep’s defense had Matt Stute’s number. Cool dialed up the same exact play every single time Maessner toted the football, a pitch play to the sophomore, who was lined up deep in the Bearcat backfield.
Maessner, who ran an :11.1 hundred and :22.4 two hundred meter dash as a freshman, ripped off big chunks of Junior Jay real estate in the first two quarters…. 52 yards on 7 touches.
Brandon Cool served up more of Maessner to open the third quarter. The long striding, 180 pound high stepper bolted for runs of 21 and 12 yards before escaping around the right side for an electrifying 68 yard TD run.
That appeared to be the killer for the Junior Jays, but it took only a minute, eight seconds for Prep to answer the Maessner scoring sprint.
Prep quarterback Reid Burke finally got some protection and promptly tossed a 53 yard scoring pass to 6-2, 185 pound Drew Dunham, who displayed some quick wheels of his own on the scoring reception. Noah Strako’s PAT made it 17-7 with 7:40 left in the game and plenty of time to stage a Creighton Prep comeback.
That’s when Matt Stute decided it was time for some payback. Stute, who had exactly NO yards on 7 tries at the time, followed some crisp blocking from his “O”-Line and went off for consecutive runs of 15, 10, 9 and 3 yards.
That basically sealed the deal for Kearney.
The Bearcats added one more score when Nathan Murray pirated a Burke pass at the Prep 29 yard line and took it to the house for a Pick 6 with just one second showing on the clock.
Miko Maessner led all rushers with 160 yards on 15 carries and a TD for Kearney. Luke Sims powered his way for 147 yards on 14 touches for the Junior Jays.
Junior Brayden Miller came in for the Bearcats to hit 5 of 12 passes for 83 yards and a touchdown after Kanon Koster went down. Koster was on crutches after the game and may have suffered an MCL injury, which could force him to sit out next Thursday’s regular season finale at Omaha Benson.
Prep sophomore quarterback Reid Burke suffered through a 5 for 20 passing night, primarily caused by the fierce Kearney pass rush. Reid threw for 82 yards and a score, but had 2 interceptions.
Creighton Prep will close out their regular season with a home game against Lincoln NE.
Creighton Prep (6-2)......0……...0…….0……..7……….7
2nd Qtr. Isaiah Stalbird
K - Isaiah Stalbird 33 pass from Brayden Miller……PAT-Heins kick..(9:14)..7-0
K - Gabe Heins 38 Field Goal………………………………………….(0:17)..10-0
K - Miko Maessner 68 run…………………………..PAT-Heins kick..(8:48)..17-0
CP-Drew Dunham 53 pass from Reid Burke………..PAT-Strako kick.(7:40)..17-7
K - Nathan Murray 29 INT Return…………………..PAT-Heins kick..(0.01)..24-7