It's a mixed bag at Prep, where the Junior Jays return six starters on offense and seven on defense but need to replace a Division I college QB and two other all-staters from last year's 7-4 team.
"Our strengths will be in both the offensive and defensive lines but we need to develop some key skill players," says fourth-year head coach Chris Nizzi, who is a Creighton University graduate.
Creighton Prep will compete in the A-3 district along with Bellevue East, Bellevue West, Omaha Central, defending Class A champion Omaha North, Omaha South and South Sioux City.
Creighton Prep Junior Jays
Take quarterback for instance. The Jays have two seniors with minimal varsity experience in Ben McLeay (6-4, 200) and Zac Luckey (5-10, 150). Whoever emerges at QB will throw to a mostly untested set of receivers, though junior Trystan Ducker (6 catches, 144 yards, 2 TDs) has shown big-play capability.
Prep does have a go-to running back in senior Micah Rensch (5-11, 180), who last year rushed for 844 yards and six touchdowns in 2013. Depth at that position could come from senior Matt Copeland (6-0 190) and junior Brandon Bena (6-2, 185).
Leading the offensive line will be senior Jack McLeay (6-1, 255), who was all-district as a junior, and Josh Stoltenberg (6-3, 295), who is getting some FCS and FBS college recruiting attention. Another returning starter in the offensive line is junior Ethan Ruh (6-2, 250) while senior Connor Morris (5-11, 255) and junior Alex Venditte (6-2, 290) are other prospects in the line.
Senior Jeremiah Stovall (5-11, 170), who last year had 82 tackles and 2 INTs, and senior Rodino (5-11, 190), who was all-district last fall, lead a secondary that also returns Tucker and senior Steve Janda (5-9, 175). Senior Logan McNeil (6-0, 185), who last year collected 81 tackles, is back at linebacker.
Four starters return in the Prep defensive line, including Stoltenberg, junior Triston Wilson (6-2, 250), senior Davis Becker (5-9, 205) and senior Mitch Ursick (5-11, 240).
Shoes to Fill
Gone are Division I recruit Easton Stick at QB, record-setting all-state receiver RJ Urzenwoski and all-state linebacker Mike Emodi.
Must Step Up
Prep is going to have to replace a whole mess of outstanding skill players, real playmakers, and how well the Jays do so will probably tell the tale in 2014.
A quarterback needs to establish himself but if he does the Jays could match last year's six regular season wins.