Area preview: Another test for Hesston

By Steve Sell
September 21, 2017

The Hesston Swathers can cross off yet another team on their avenge tour on Friday.

The Swathers, who avenged a loss to Halstead in Week 2, can knock off the last team they lost to during the regular season last year when they host Nickerson on Friday.

Nickerson won last year’s game, 36-27. The Panthers have been revitalized since former Inman coach Mike Vernon has taken the helm.

Hesston is 2-1 and coming off a wild 56-35 victory over Larned, which had knocked off Smoky Valley the week before.

“Our guys responded well to being down 21-7 in the first quarter,” Hesston coach Tyson Baurele said. “No team ever plans to start out poorly, but it was good to see us come back with some big plays and eventually take the lead in the last 30 seconds of the first half. We had some upper-class players step up and begin leading us. Our defense then played great the second half to give us a cushion with our scoring. It was good to go on the road, face adversity, overcome it  and come home with a win.”

The Swathers, for the third game in a row, put up pinball numbers. Quarterback Cameron Cox has made the seamless transition from receiver to quarterback, putting up 224 yards passing with four scores. His favorite target was Reese Nebel, who snagged 7 aerials for 172 yards and a hat trick of touchdowns. Powerhouse Parker Roth was again unstoppable, rushing for 215 yards and three more touchdowns, while catching a TD pass as well. Jesus Ramirez was a defensive force with two fumble recoveries, one of which he returned for a score.

Just given the fact the Swathers lost last year to the Panthers — then rattled off nine wins in a row to make the Class 3A state title game — is enough incentive.

“I'm very impressed with Nickerson's team,” Bauerle said. “They play hard, they are athletic and they are fundamentally sound. We're expecting the toughest opponent we've seen up to this point. It should be a great football game.”

Nickerson is 2-1, its only loss to defending 4A champ Pratt (28-14). It has defeated Haven (48-8) and Lyons (53-14).

Elsewhere:

• Sterling at Moundridge — The Wildcats are probably getting tired of playing good football and having nothing to show for it.

MHS fell to 0-3 last week with a 28-14 loss to Ell-Saline, a game it played without injured starting quarterback Mason Dyck.

“I was really happy with how well our kids played,” MHS coach Jeremiah Meeks said. “We are banged up and a little undermanned, but our kids came out and battled the entire game. We were limited throwing so they loaded the box, but handled that and ran the ball well.” 

This game should be a good measuring stick for the Wildcats. Sterling is 2-1, with wins over future Moundridge opponents Remington (34-20) and Inman (41-7), with the loss to Sedgwick (31-21). 

“Sterling has some really good athletes that they try to get in space,” Meeks said. “They are very aggressive on defense and bring a lot of pressure.”

Despite Dyck being out, the Wildcats received a nice game from Damian Calderon, who rushed for 63 yards and a touchdown and threw for 26 yards. Corbin Unruh also played some quarterback, passing for 76 yards, with most of that going to Noah Eichelberger.

“Damian played a great game for us at QB,” Meeks said. “Noah played really well on both sides of the ball. My offensive and defensive lines both played awesome. They had trouble running the ball on us and we ran the ball well. Luke (Ratzloff) played really well at linebacker for us.”

• Canton-Galva at Wakefield — The Eagle Express, which has rolled up 108 points and allowed only 6 the last two weeks, will try to make it three in a row against a Wakefield team that was bombed 58-12 by Little River last week.

The Eagles, of course, play Little River in Week 7 and that game could very well determine which team makes the playoffs along with prohibitive district favorite Central Plains.

C-G hammered Peabody 46-0 last week,

"With the windy conditions, we knew throwing the ball was going to be a challenge," C-G coach Shelby Hoppes said. "Our young guys up front accepted that challenge and played well. We were finally able to move the ball on the ground, which is something we've really been struggling with. Our run game will need to continue to get better if we want to continue having success. Defensively we held them scoreless. That's two weeks in a row we haven't given up an offensive score. I thought our energy level could've been much higher, we didn't play with the passion that we need to bring every Friday. But overall the boys played well in all facets of the game."

There were several noteworthy performances.

"Jonah Sargent played extremely well on both sides of the ball," Hoppes said. "Offensively he was able to rush for two scores, but what impressed me more was his lead blocking. He played fast and with force all night, opening holes our run game had been lacking. Defensively he had two interceptions and was our leading tackler as well. Freshman Connor Koehn and Brandon Huff played very well on the defensive front for us. They play the defensive end spots in our 3-2 and did a great job all night controlling the line of scrimmage. Landon Everett and Dylan Wood were able to hook up three more times through the air as well.  Those two are really starting to click in our passing game."

C-G plays a Wakefield team that's probably shaken emotionally after being routed by Little River after it had won its first games.

"We have Wakefield this week on the road, which is our third road game in four weeks," Hoppes said. "They are 2-1 on the year with very similar scores against our common opponents.  They are an experienced football team with seven out of the eight starters on both sides being juniors and seniors. They have speed at multiple positions. The (Justin) Carver kid will line up in multiple positions on offense and if he gets loose nobody is catching him. We have to do a great job all night containing him and getting hats to the football on every play. It should be a dogfight all night and one our guys are very excited for."

• Smoky Valley at Hillsboro — The Vikings will be a strong favorite to improve to 3-1 when they go on the road for the second time, the first being their only loss to Larned, 28-14.

The Vikings had a nice bounce-back game last week by pummeling Haven 36-6, leading 22-0 at the half.

“We played well at times and got better,” Smoky Valley coach Tim Lambert said.

Smoky Valley didn’t break character, as 51 of its 56 plays came on the ground, good for 303 yards.

Kyle Anderson (17 for 103), Riley Odell (10-72), Tim Lambert (6-46) and Cort Elliott (6-34) all took turns hammering at the middle of the Haven defense.

Hillsboro was impressive in its opener with a 32-0 blanking of Lyons, but since has lost to Kingman (20-6) and Hoisington (53-28).

“They have good skill people on offense, play very hard and are well coached,” Lambert said.

• Little River at Solomon — This will be an acid test for Little River.

Solomon is off to a flying 3-0 start and plays a physical brand of football that few teams in 8-Man I can match.

"Solomon is a very excellent team who can run the ball with their line, which is very physical and can beat you at the skill positions," Little River coach Chad Lafferty said. "Their QB is probably their most dangerous player on the field with his running ability and if you try and take that away by loading the box he will throw the ball and pick apart the secondary. Their backs are very physical runners who can either flat out run you over or make a move and make the tackler look silly."

Solomon has hardly been pushed. It defeated Canton-Galva 66-34 to open the season, then pasted Herington (54-34) and Goessel (48-0).

Little River improved to 2-1 last week with a 58-12 blasting of Wakefield. Hunter Thomas led the way with 82 yards rushing and three scores. Peyton Harvey had a receiving and return for a score. Levi Swenson rushed for 66 yards and a TD and threw a scoring strike to three different receivers — Harvey, Graham Stephens and Bronson Rains.

"I thought the boys really stepped up both physically and mentally," Lafferty said. "We had some emotion during the game, which we had been lacking the week before. Wakefield was a very good team and we were able to take care of the ball and also create some turnovers which resulted in a short field for us. I thought our offensive line of Bryce Sears, Kody Hawkinson, Trey Baldwin, Brayden Sears, Ethan Schafer and Jordan Moffett really came to play this game. They were physical and held their blocks throughout the game which allowed our backs room to run."

• Ell-Saline at Inman — The Teutons have played three physical teams to start the season and are 0-3.

They have gone down to Trinity Catholic (38-7), Marion (64-13) and Sterling (41-7).

Ell-Saline has blasted off to a 3-0 start, with wins over Sedgwick (31-21), Remington  (35-7) and Moundridge (28-14).

The Teutons will be looking to get their offense untracked as they have only four scores in three weeks.

Inman coach Lance Sawyer could not be reached.


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