HESSTON — Clint Rider tried to convince his Hesston Swathers all week that they belonged in the Class 3A state semifinal football game against No. 1-ranked and undefeated Hoisington.
He knew that the Cardinals had overwhelmed a Garden Plain team that had defeated Hesston. But that loss for the Swathers came in Week 1.
Turns out comparative scores carry the weight of a 3-dollar bill.
The Swathers, who at one time this season were 1-3, took out an undefeated team for the second week in a row with a 35-19 victory to advance to next Saturday’s state title game against two-time defending champion Rossville at nearby Hutchinson.
Again it was quarterback Zach Esau displaying his amazing versatility. He threw for 226 yards and ran for two scores as the Swathers took control of the game early.
Hesston led 14-0 after a quarter on a 4-yard run by Parker Roth and a 30-yard scoring strike from Esau to Reese Nebel.
After the Cardinals cut the lead in half, the Swathers went up 21-7 on an 8-yard run by Roth, who ran for 55 yards on 13 carries.
Hoisington pulled within 21-13 by halftime, but Hesston scored 14 points in the third period as Esau sprinted in on a pair of short scoring runs.
Zach Vogt had a big night receiving for Hesston with 157 yards on eight catches.
The Swathers had 339 yards of total offense, while Hoisington picked up 314 of its 329 yards on the ground.
Hesston will be playing in the state title game for the first time since 1992. Ironically, it was against Rossville as the Swathers won 3-0 in a game played at Wichita’s Cessna Stadium.