The 2022 GI Jamboree was held Monday at Grand Island Senior High School. Four schools (Grand Island, Grand Island Northwest, Bennington and Kearney Catholic) attended the one day team camp.
The Islanders are stereotypical, in a good way. As long as Jeff Tomlin is the coach they will continue to be extremely well coached, structured, functioning in sync, hard nosed, physical and tough.
2023 quarterback Cohen Evans steps into the lead role with the graduation of Kytan Fyfe. Evans has a presence about him. Clearly he is the team leader and doesn’t let one play affect the next. Maybe it was just the day but he seems to have the middle screen down pretty much to perfection.
Justyce Hostetler (2024) had a great day on both sides of the ball. Some fullback traps worked well and he seemed to be all over the field from his middle linebacker position.
If you have seen Grand Island the last handful of years you know they don’t have the biggest lineman you have ever seen. Even though they may lack prototypical size, Traditionally the Islanders lineman play with great technique and get the job done. 2023 Bo Douglass (6-2, 275) was one of the bigger lineman the Islanders have. Playing the middle of the defensive line as a nose guard he swallowed up double teams numerous times and was hard to move for opposing offensive linemen.
One of the more unknown players outside of Grand Island that had a good day was 2023 split/tight end Cole Thorne (6-1, 200). Thorne made multiple catches that would move the chains in a third and medium/long situation. He is sure handed and physical in the run game. He will most certainly improve on his 11 catches and 208 yard junior campaign.
Grand Island Northwest
It should be no surprise that Vic Isele (2023) had a good day for the Vikings. Isele, a 6-3, 220-pound pass rushers couldn’t be blocked at times, like a lot of times. It looks as though he’s added some pass rushing moves instead of just trying to use a bull rush like he has previously. Punch, swim, swipe, speed, it didn’t matter, Isele showed it.
Quarterback Austin Payne (2023) received some valuable experience last season when Sam Hartman missed time due to injury. A positive leader, Payne missed some throws but he was also really good rolling to his left and connecting with receivers outside for big gains.
Brock Zoebel is a physical run blocker that also showed he can get hands on defenders in the passing game. The 6-4, 265-pound class of 2023 offensive guard was the VIkings best lineman and is a finisher.
EJ Arends (5-11, 175) is an in the box, run-fitting defensive thumper. He made a handful of tackles in the run game that stopped the runner in their tracks. Arends, a senior, will also help in the receivers in the passing game at receiver.
The 2021 Class B champions lost a lot due to graduation. The Badgers do return some play makers and should be right in the mix in Class B in the fall. 2023 quarterback Trey Bird was limited due to an ankle injury but he had a nice day and wanted to pull the ball down for long gains with his feet. Through the air he should take advantage of what looks to be a little more wide open Badger attack.
2023 receiver Isaac Conner (6-2, 185) could be in for a huge year in 2022. He made some tough catches across the middle and didn’t drop a ball that was within his catch radius all day.
K.J. Taffa (2024) was a bit of a revelation. He will likely make some plays in the fall in the short passing game and has enough speed and ability to make defenders miss in the open field.
2023 Weston Heinemann (6-4, 210) tied for a team leading three sacks in 2021. An impressive looking and physical athlete, he should improve that number in 2022.
It was tough to get a true gauge where the Stars will be in 2022. A strong senior class last season has graduated making way for a large crop of freshmen. Of the 52 players 20 freshmen will likely need to contribute whether it be in varsity action or practice reps.