Rain can't slow Prospect's passing attack
Practice in the rain made Brad Vierneisel almost perfect on the field Friday night at Wheeling.
Playing just one half in Prospect's penultimate Mid-Suburban East football game of the 2022 season, the Knights senior quarterback was 13-of-14 for 165 yards and 3 touchdowns as the visitors led 30-0 at intermission on the way to a 44-12 triumph in the wet conditions.
"We did practice in the rain two times this week," said Vierneisel, who now has 2,407 passing yards for the season and 27 TDs. "And we didn't shy away from throwing the ball in practice. I think I got very comfortable today. My goal coming in was just to complete as many as I could and take the easy ones and I think I did that for the most part."
So even with the windy and wet conditions, Vierneisel and company still wanted to put the ball in the air.
"I just tried to keep my hands as dry as possible," said the senior who wears No. 13, the same number of completions he had, including four to Frank Covey (43 yards total), three to Jake Parisi (44 yards) and three to Sebastian Wildhart (58 yards). Gabriel Smarduch caught two for 17 yards and Gavin Flanagan had one for 3 yards.
"He (Vierneisel) is playing at a high level now," said Prospect coach Dan DeBoeuf whose team is 7-1 and 3-1. "We actually had rain practices this week and he threw the ball real well. It really doesn't seem to affect him so that's awesome for us."
Wheeling coach Pete Panagakis felt he played an awesome team.
"Let me say one thing, Dan and his guys are one heck of a team," Panagakis said. "I am very proud of them."
DeBoeuf showed mutual respect for the Wildcats (3-5, 0-4) who started the season at 3-1.
"Hats off to the Wheeling staff," DeBoeuf said. "I think they're doing a great job. They came out and fought hard so kudos to them."
Prospect came out on its second possession and went 89 yards before Vierneisel's 10-yard TD pass to Covey, who then ran for the 2-point conversion and 8-0 lead with 4:24 left in the first quarter.
With linemen Vincent Salerno, Malachi Tolliver, Andrew Heiss, Chance Rolfe and Olasubomi Sulaimon paving the way, Prospect scored 4 touchdowns in the second period.
The offensive barrage began with Vierneisel's short flip to Parisi, who then swept around left end for a 6-yard TD reception at the 11:09 mark. Gavin Flanagan lined up to kick the extra point but he caught the snap and raced around right end to make it 16-0.
After another defensive stop, Prospect produced a 92-yard scoring drive, capped by Vierneisel's 17-yard TD toss to Covey with 4:34 left.
After a three-and-out, Parisi's 55-yard punt return made it 30-0 following Flanagan's second extra-point kick.
"Jake (Parisi) looked sharp tonight," DeBoeuf said. "He had the nice punt return and the one little jet sweep pass which he took so it was nice to see him get in the end zone."
Prospect then stopped Wheeling on 4th-and-two at the Wildcats' 49 with 57.7 seconds left to intermission.
Four plays later, Vierneisel hooked up with Covey, who wiggled his way out of the grasp of a defender for a 39-yard TD catch and 37-0 lead.
Sophomore Noah Easter's 1-yard TD run and Mateo Carlos Hintch's extra-point kick started the running clock at 44-0 with 9:25 left in the third quarter.
Wheeling's two scores came on senior Simon Micula's 7-yard TD run that was set up by junior backup QB Ashton Schneider's 24-yard pass to senior Diego Giles late in the third quarter. Schneider also flipped a 7-yard TD pass to Giles in the game's final minute.
"I was happy with a lot of things we did," added DeBoeuf, whose team also received an interception from Jack Berman. "It was definitely another learning experience and a lot of guys (including quarterbacks Jack Skoog and Matthew Guga in the second half) got to play which was great,"