HESSTON — It’s become almost a rite of fall that Hesston’s football team starts slowly.
The Swathers made the state title game in 2016, but what people forget about that season is they started 1-3 before catching fire.
Last year, they started 2-3 before ripping off six straight wins.
So Hesston coach Tyson Bauerle knows that patience is preached in Swather Land. While 2-2 is not terrible, it’s certainly not up to Hesston standards, but the losses have been to state powers Pratt and Smoky Valley.
Last week’s 28-0 loss to the Vikings was demoralizing, but there was some good news — quarterback Cameron Cox returned to play his first game of the season. While he was rusty, it gets him ready for the stretch run.
“Cameron really showed some guts coming back against a tough team like Smoky,” Bauerle said. “I was proud of how he competed.”
The Swathers are welcomed back All-Stater Parker Roth and backup quarterback Jacob Eilert, who was solid in his three games in Cox’s stead.
“It was good to have some of our injured players back last Friday,” Bauerle said. “Parker Roth and Jacob Eilert were back after missing the week before. Cameron Cox made his season debut for us at QB as well. We were limited with what we were willing to do with those guys, but regardless it was great having them back. Smoky Valley is so tough up front on offense and defense, and that really got to us in the second half. We shot ourselves in the foot in the first half with missed assignments and dropped passes. We change a few of those plays (like any game) and it could have been a different story to begin the second half. (Smoky) Coach (Tim) Lambert does a tremendous job with his guys.”
The Swathers have another tough one this week with Halstead as they’re in the midst of a run of strong teams. These two teams have developed quite a rival in the battle of H’s.
“They are a little undersized, but they make up for it with how hard they play,” Bauerle said. “We'll have to match their physicality and sustain that for the entire game.”
The Dragons are 3-1, the only loss 32-16 to Pratt. They have been unstoppable the last 2 weeks, swamping Lyons (64-0) and Rock Creek (52-16).