Hopefully it will be home sweet home for both Hesston and Smoky Valley on Friday.
Both area schools will be serving as hosts for second-round football playoff games in Class 3A and 4A Division II, respectively.
The Swathers are home to undefeated Phillipsburg, while the Vikings entertain the Longhorns of Holcomb.
Hesston, 8-3, is coming off an amazing finish on Saturday as Jorge Morales’ 24-yard field goal on the final play of the game gave the Swathers a 45-42 road victory over previously undefeated Conway Springs.
“I am incredibly proud of how tough our players were,” first-year Hesston coach Tyson Bauerle said. “All week we preached staying the course, mentally check in all night and make them doubt, and our players executed in those three areas very well. We knew it was going to be a tough game against such a tough opponent, but we liked our chances if we were able to make them finish a game. Multiple guys stepped up with big moments on offense. It was an incredible high school football game.”
Friday’s game will be a rematch of last year when Hesston was a 38-26 winner in Phillipsburg.
“Phillipsburg will be a heavy, power-run type team,” Bauerle said. “They execute their system very well. They have big, physical backs that run very hard. Phillipsburg's defense has been especially tough this year. They run a 5-2 defense and will play quite a bit of man coverage against spread formations. They've held teams to 91 points all year.”
But Phillipsburg (11-0) also hasn’t seen an offense quite like the Swathers. Hesston is clicking on all cylinders now behind the Big 3 of quarterback Cameron Cox, running back Parker Roth and receiver Reese Nebel. The Swathers have been putting up 500 yards on everybody in recent weeks as they have been close to unstoppable.
Meanwhile Smoky Valley takes a 9-1 record into its game with Holcomb. The Vikings turned to their defense last week for a 12-2 victory as it turned into a defensive slugfest.
Smoky Valley coach Tim Lambert said at least his team doesn’t have to make the 3 1/2-hour drive on Friday.
Lambert noted the Longhorns throw the ball about 40 percent of the time, unlike some of the other teams the Vikings have faced this year. However, in the win over Collegiate the Vikings were solid against a good passing team.
The Vikings lost to Pratt last year in this round, so they’re hoping to get farther this time around.
Holcomb’s only loss came in Week 2 to Scott City, 23-14. The Longhorns had little trouble with Colby last week with a 46-15 rout. In district play, Holcomb defeated Kingman (36-0), Pratt (19-14) and Hugoton (33-14).