Opening night of the area high school football season produced a 2-3 ledger, with the winners including Smoky Valley and Little River.
There are some good matchups on tap for Friday, with the headliner being Hesston home against Halstead.
Here are the previews:
• Halstead at Hesston •
Both teams well realize they’ll start the season 0-2 with a loss.
Both also suffered difficult losses last week, Hesston being edged 28-24 by Garden Plain and Halstead 24-22 at the hands of Smoky Valley.
“We were pleased with the effort and the desire from our guys,” first-year Hesston coach Tyson Bauerle said. “We just had too many little mistakes that turned into big issues - turnovers in their territory, penalties, poor field position, etc. We have to take care of those things if we want to be successful on any Friday night.”
The Hesston offense certainly put up enough yardage with 510 total, as Parker Roth had a 185-yard game on the ground and Cameron Cox threw for 271, with Reese Nebel having a top performance receiving with 9 catches for 139 yards.
“Offensively we had big nights from Cameron Cox, Parker Roth and Reese Nebel. Landon Spencer also stepped in well at tight end for a few drives and had a long TD reception,” Bauerle said.
Stopping Halstead means stopping the ground game.
“Halstead has their system down extremely well under coach Grider. We'll have to be assignment-sound against their belly option,” Bauerle said.
• Smoky Valley at Larned •
The Vikings go on the road for the first time and take on a Larned team that gave defending Class 4A Division II champion Pratt all it wanted last Friday in a wild 56-46 loss.
“Larned scored 46 on last year’s state champ Pratt,” Viking coach Tim Lambert said. “We have to be ready to play. We need to be very good defensively.”
The Vikings are coming off a 24-22 victory over Halstead, avenging last year’s 36-6 loss.
“We beat a very good Halstead team. We need to continue to get better,” Lambert said.
Ball control was the key to the Vikings’ win. By snapping the ball 67 plays to just 32 for Halstead they were able to keep the Dragon offense off the field.
The Vikes’ ground game was punishing. Kyle Anderson rushed for 105 yards on 23 carries and Cort Elliott furnished 42 on 11 tries. Brett Heitschmidt was 7 of 9 through the air for 127 yards, with Tim Lambert catching three for 93 yards.
• Canton-Galva at Rural Vista •
The painfully young Eagles (only three seniors) showed considerable promise in their 66-34 loss to physical Solomon, one of the toughest teams they’ll play all season.
“We went from down 4 to down 20 in the last 1:42 of the second quarter, which ended up costing us a chance to be in the game in the second half, but I thought we competed for the whole game with a talented and much more experienced football team,” C-G coach Shelby Hoppes said. “I thought our young guys grew up a lot throughout the game. We had too many mental mistakes that cost us, but the good thing is all of that is correctable and the kids will learn from it and move on.”
Sophomore quarterback Landon Everett certainly put some points on the board in his first start.
“Landon Everett did a good job at quarterback. It was his first game under center and I thought he led his team very well and made plays when needed,” Hoppes said. “Dylan Wood and Jonah Sargent were very good with the ball in their hands as well. They have big-play potential every time they touch it.”
Rural Vista will be no bargain.
“Rural Vista likes to spread you out and run inside with the (Eli) Flemming kid on offense,” Hoppes said. “He's a senior this year at 6-0 and 240 pounds. He is very tough to bring down and we are going to have to work hard all night and get lots of our guys in on every tackle.”
Rural Vista is coming off a 5-4 season and was a 40-26 winner over Peabody in its season opener last week.
• Bennington at Little River •
After a triumphant 50-42 start to the season against Centre, the Redskins hope to make it two in a row in their home opener.
“I thought our team played well considering it was the first game of the year,” said Little River’s Chad Lafferty, who won his head coaching debut. “Centre was a very physical team and we had to have some players grow up pretty quickly in order for us to be in that game. We learned a lot from that first game and I believe the kids realize we still have a lot of work to do to be where we want to be heading into our future games.”
Levi Swenson rushed for 164 yards and three touchdowns, while Peyton Harvey also scored three offensive touchdowns and picked off a pass and returned it for his fourth score.
“Levi Swenson and Peyton Harvey really stepped up for us this game and really showed some senior leadership throughout the game,” Lafferty said. “Levi did a great job offensively reading his defensive keys, they were keying our running backs so Levi was able to have a big game rushing the ball when we ran option. Peyton ran the ball extremely hard in the fourth quarter and led us defensively throughout the game. He really got tougher as the game went and it showed with his runs at the end of the game.”
Bennington is coming off a 2-7 season, but was a 52-6 winner over Herington in its opener.
“Bennington is a very good team who can put up a lot of points many different ways,” Lafferty said. “The running back (J.J.) Allen and quarterback (Devin) Feil are their best athletes and we will need to contain them to give ourselves a chance to win the game. They run a lot of misdirection and will spread the offense and get the Allen kid the ball in space and let him do his thing.”
• Moundridge at Trinity Catholic •
The brutal schedule to open the season continues for Moundridge, which put up a gritty fight last week against always-strong Marion before losing 36-26.
“I thought we played pretty well for the first week,” Moundridge coach Jeremiah Meeks said. “We had a few mistakes that hurt, but overall I was really happy with the effort that we played with. That was a really good team that beat us, but we played them very well.”
Mason Dyck did a solid job at quarterback, throwing for 152 yards and two scores. Jerod Kaufman provided the running balance with 101 yards on 24 carries and Noah Eichelberger showed he’s going to be an elite receiver with 8 catches for 105 yards.
“Noah played a really good game and made some great catches for us when we needed them down the stretch,” Meeks said. “Mason played a good game and adjusted to the speed of the game very well early, he settled in nicely and made some great throws. Jared ran the ball really well for us and had a nice day on the ground. Defensively, Damian Calderon played a great game for us and led us in tackles. Our offensive line as a whole played a great game.”
The Wildcats take on a Celtic team that dominated Inman 38-7 last week.
“They are very well coached and extremely quick,” Meeks said. “They will try and spread you out on offense and put their playmakers in space. They have a veteran quarterback (Kaleb Hammeke) who makes plays and a very fast, aggressive defense.”
• Inman at Marion •
The Teutons and Moundridge are just swapping opponents from the first week, so if anything the two rivals will compare scores in anticipation of their district game later this season.
In the 38-7 loss to Trinity Catholic, Inman actually got off to an excellent start with a 7-0 lead after a quarter on an 11-yard pass from Payton Froese to Jaxson Eddy.
It was just a 16-7 game at the half, but the Celtics erupted in the third quarter.
"Trinity is good, but we had some mental mistakes that gave them points," Inman coach Lance Sawyer said. "Their QB is a good runner."
The Teutons could get nothing going on the ground with just 39 yards, but Froese did have some success through the air as the Teutons had 158 passing yards. Eddy was solid with 5 catches for 71 yards and he was a defensive stalwart with 14 tackles.
The Teutons should have a good plan when it comes to the Warrriors, who once again this year are expected to be outstanding as they have a punishing ground game behind Jack Schneider and Corbin Wheeler, both of whom went over 100 yards in Week 1.
“Marion will be really good, big up front and solid positional players,” Sawyer said. “They moved Schneider, who I thought was the best QB in the league last year, from quarterback to running back. He will be one of the better runners in the league. Defensively, Tyler Palic will be one of the best linebackers in the league. He has great vision and is very physical. They run a 3-4 defense and will pound the ball offensively with option and traps.”