World-Herald prep recruiting specialist Mike Sautter attended Omaha Creighton Prep football practice on Tuesday. Here are some observations.
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The Junior Jays are looking to build off their state semifinal run in 2017. Tim Johnk is in his second season as head coach and has a core group of seniors along with standout underclassmen.
The Junior Jays have two of the best lineman in the state in seniors Ryan Bena and Trendell Dawkins. Bena, a left guard, is the anchor of the offensive line at 6-foot-3, 275 pounds. He holds a scholarship offer from South Dakota. Dawkins a 6-3, 280-pound defensive tackle is a run-stopping space eater.
At quarterback, junior Reid Burke returns after throwing for 1,058 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2017. Burke has mobility and an electric arm. On Tuesday, he showcased his arm strength. On a bootleg to his left, Burke threw a strike to the corner of the end zone over a defensive lineman and between two defensive backs for a 30-yard touchdown.
Senior fullback Luke Sims led the team in rushing (1,005 yards) last season. On Tuesday, he showcased his pass-rushing ability at defensive end. Sims could have a big season sacking quarterbacks.
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Senior Jackson Bartling split carries with Elisha Burt last season, rushing for 509 yards. Bartling should take over as the lead I-back in 2018 as Burt moves to defensive back.
Mason Armstead, a 6-2, 170-pound wide receiver, caught 19 passes for 229 yards and three touchdowns in 2017. He should have a bigger role in the passing game and on the defense at safety.
There is a lot to like at the tight end position in 2018. This season we should find out just how good sophomore AJ Rollins is. At 6-5 and 190 pounds, Rollins is a big, strong pass catcher. Junior Will Manhart is 6-4, runs well and is a big target for Burke to find over the middle and in the red zone.