Bo Els had a career day last Saturday at Midland.
The former Lincoln Southwest standout caught nine passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns, helping No. 1 Morningside roll to a 77-21 victory at Midland to move to 6-0 on the season.
But as good as the junior was, Connor Niles was even better. Niles snagged eight receptions for 307 yards and four TDs, part of a Morningside offense that was a model of efficiency. The Mustangs piled up 832 yards of total offense and quarterback Trent Solsma completed 19 of 22 passes for an astounding 528 yards and seven TDs.
Niles has 63 receptions for 1,224 yards and 15 TDs this season, while Solsma has thrown for 2,473 yards and 32 TDs.
“We have an unbelievable quarterback and Connor (Niles) just opens it up for the rest of us (receivers),” said the 5-foot-10, 175-pound Els, who has 31 receptions for 412 yards and three scores this season. “We love it.”
Els isn’t the only Southeast Nebraska product thriving in Morningside’s high-octane attack, which averages 58 points and 600 yards per game. Sophomore Reid Jurgensmeier, a 6-3, 210-pound former all-stater at Bishop Neumann, has caught 20 passes for 307 yards and five TDs this season.
This has been a breakout season for Els, who spent his first two seasons at Morningside returning kicks and serving in a backup role at wide receiver. This is what he signed up for three years ago when he picked the Mustangs over Doane and Marian, a school in Indianapolis that is No. 2 in the latest NAIA poll behind Morningside.
“I wanted to play and I wanted to win,” Els said. “Those were the two biggest factors in choosing a college, and all of that’s coming together here. It’s a lot of fun playing here. We have great guys on the team and great coaches who know how to win.
“Coach (Steve) Ryan always says if you work hard and stay, you’ll play,” Els added. “And if you play, you’ll be successful.”
Ryan said Els possesses everything he wants from a football player in his program.
“Bo’s a great person. He has a phenomenal football mind because he was a high school quarterback and he’s worked really hard at perfecting his craft,” Ryan said. “With his hands, quickness and the way he runs routes, if teams come up with something to shut down Connor (Niles), we can run the same things with Bo and still be successful.”
It’s been quite the fall for the Els family. Bo’s father, Ross, is the inside linebackers coach for Colorado, which is currently 5-0 and nationally ranked. Bo’s twin sister, former Southwest all-state libero Taylor Els, leads Northern Colorado’s volleyball team in digs with 268.
Ross Els has been to two of his son’s games this season. Colorado had a bye week when Bo had 10 catches for 111 yards in a 56-0 win over Briar Cliff on Sept. 22. The former Hastings head coach was also able to attend Morningside’s game at Hastings the next week because Colorado played at home against UCLA on Friday night.
“We talk about each game, but my dad doesn’t try to coach me,” Bo said. “The coaches here are great, and he totally trusts them.”
Another area player, Chase Nelson, is also having a standout season for the Mustangs. The junior linebacker from Beatrice has 27 tackles, seven for losses and three quarterback sacks. He’s also recovered a fumble and forced a fumble.