Clark’s Corner, 9/6/22: Stepping in for Cam Kozeal, Millard South’s Brock Murtaugh doesn’t look like a stand-in quarterback. He looks like a natural.
When Cam Kozeal embarked on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity last week, Millard South needed a pinch-hitter – or in this case, a pinch-thrower – to start at quarterback against Elkhorn South.
Brock Murtaugh was more than willing to warm up his arm and step in.
The senior, who under normal circumstances catches passes and breaks them up, didn’t look like a stand-in signal-caller running the Patriots’ offense in Friday’s 31-28 loss to the Storm. Murtaugh was 21-of-37 for 274 yards and three touchdowns, including a pretty 40-yard strike to Gavin Nunnally in the third quarter.
Another impressive stat: No turnovers.
Ty Wisdom coaches the quarterbacks, so what did the first-year Millard South head coach think of Murtaugh’s performance?
“He did very well,” Wisdom said. “He stepped in and did an outstanding job.”
The Patriots lost the game, but they learned a lot about themselves. The current arrangement will only make the team stronger, Wisdom said.
Murtaugh will remain QB1 until Kozeal returns from his commitment to Team USA baseball (More on that below) later in the month. Kozeal threw for more than 300 yards in the Patriots’ win against Millard West in Week 1.
It was over the summer when Kozeal learned of his invitation to try out for Team USA’s Under-18 program. That gave the Patriots some time to develop a plan to cover Kozeal’s absence.
Though he hadn’t played quarterback in several years, Murtaugh seemed like a natural choice.
“I just thought Brock gave us the best chance to win in that part of it,” said Wisdom, who spent the summer learning in the ins and outs of his new team. “He’s a leader. Obviously being a team captain, guys look up to him and guys follow him, and that’s very important as a quarterback.”
Wisdom also points to Murtaugh’s football IQ. He comes from a family with deep athletic roots, after all.
His grandfather is Jerry Murtaugh, one of the greatest linebackers to play for the Huskers. Brock’s other grandfather is the late Paul Semrad, who was a successful girls basketball coach at Omaha Central in the 1980s.
Millard South (1-1), which is ranked No. 7, is not at full strength now, but when Kozeal returns, the Patriots will be primed for a late-season run. Murtaugh will likely move back to wide receiver and safety, where he quarterbacks the defense.
Murtaugh already has football offers from Harvard, South Dakota State and Air Force. Wisdom said playing quarterback will only show more schools how athletic Murtaugh is.
The priority is helping Millard South pick up some wins in September. The Patriots have games against Millard North and Gretna coming up.
Kozeal earns his (Team USA) stripes
Earning a tryout to play for Team USA’s 18U team alone is an impressive accomplishment. Only 40 baseball players from across the country received an invitation. One of those invites landed in the glove of Millard South senior Cam Kozeal. Over the weekend the Vanderbilt pledge heard his name called when Team USA announced its 20-player roster for the U-18 World Cup.
The tournament begins Friday and runs through Sept. 18 in Florida (Bradenton and Sarasota).
Once Kozeal’s baseball commitments with Team USA are complete, he’ll return home to sling passes for the Patriots.
It’s a big deal for Kozeal, and it’s a big deal for high school baseball in Nebraska.
“If you know Cam at all, it doesn’t surprise you,” Wisdom said. “When he’s out there, he’s just balling out. I knew the minute he was on that team I was planning that he was going to be gone for the next month. I’m so happy for him. What an experience.”
The 20 guys representing #TeamUSA 👏
— USA Baseball 18U (@USABaseball18U) September 3, 2022
A new stratosphere for Stars coach
Congrats to volleyball coach Kris Conner, who recorded her 700th career win with Kearney Catholic’s sweep of Hershey on Thursday night.
When Conner took over the program in 1992, Kearney Catholic had only been to the state tournament three times. Since then, Kearney Catholic has made state 17 times, winning it all four times (2012-15) and finishing runner-up three times (2010, 2011 and 2021).
Conner has the Stars in contention for a fifth state title this year.
Answering the bell
— THEnebpreps (@THEnebpreps) September 3, 2022
In the Running Backs Can Do It All department … let’s mail a months’ worth of helmet stickers to a couple of bell cows.
Aurora’s Carlos Collazo bulldozed his way to 257 yards and four touchdowns and added an 11-yard TD reception in the Huskies’ 34-13 win against Boone Central in a top 10 battle. Two of Collazo’s scores were 80-yard house calls.
Meanwhile, in the Metro, Te’shaun Porter continues to show why he is one of the top players in the state. The senior running back rushed for 256 yards, including a 74-yard touchdown, in a 14-13 win against Millard West at Buell Stadium. Porter also threw the game-winning touchdown on a halfback pass with 3:33 remaining to help the Vikings rally for the win.
Omaha Benson junior linebacker Kevon Newsome had 22 tackles – 14 assisted – in the Bunnies’ 20-19 win against Omaha Bryan last Thursday. Newsome also picked off two passes.