The Hillsboro High School football team defeated Hesston Friday in Hillsboro, 16-10.
“It’s awesome,” quarterback Luke Moore said. “We haven’t beat Hesston in like 10 years.”
“I don’t think it’s been quite that long but it’s been a long time,” head coach Max Heinrichs said.
Heinrichs said he could not be more proud of his team after the victory. The consistent effort the Trojans submitted has given the coach more hope for the remainder of the schedule.
The effort started with Moore at quarterback and linebacker.
Hesston owned the first quarter and jumped out to a 10-0 lead on the strength of Kyle Perry’s 16-yard touchdown run on the Swather’s first possession and an Eyan Roth field goal near the end of the opening period.
The Trojans dominated the second quarter. On the first drive of the quarter, Moore threw for first downs on consecutive out routes to Shaq Thiessen and Aaron Klassen.
The Hillsboro passing game was much improved compared to previous contests. Moore completed 9-of-21 passes for 101 yards. He was throwing tight spirals and could zip the ball past defenders or float the ball into his receivers’ hands.
Klassen caught three balls for 47 yards with a touchdown. The touchdown pass was on the Trojans second possession of the second quarter. Moore lofted the ball over a Hesston defender and Klassen jumped to reel in the pass after running a go-route; the play was good for a 33-yard completion.
Thiessen also caught three passes for 40 yards. Christian Ratzlaff caught two passes for 13 yards and running back Tyler Proffitt rounded out the passing with one completion.
“I have five great receivers,” Moore said, including Evan Ollenburger and Josh Wiebe.
The passing stats and the Trojan margin of victory could have been greater. Thiessen got both hands on the ball on a fade route up the Hesston sideline. It would have taken a spectacular effort, but had he caught the ball he would have scored.
Held off the receiving stat sheet, Ollenburger ran an out route and caught a Moore pass in the end zone. However, the play was called back because of offsetting penalties, roughing the passer and illegal formation.
Another Trojan also laid out on a slant in the third quarter and had both hands on the ball in the end zone before it bounced harmlessly to the turf.
“We have to run all our patterns like we’re going to get the ball,” Heinrichs said of something the Trojans will work on in practice.
While Moore submitted his best performance as a passer Friday, his legs beat the Swathers on the first possession of the second quarter. He compiled 60 yards rushing for the game.
“He seems to be able to get yards against them,” Heinrichs said of Moore’s rushing effort against Hesston.
On a pivotal third-and-8 play near midfield, Moore scrambled, eluded multiple Hesston tacklers, and ran the ball up the Hesston sideline to about the Swather 30-yard line. Four Swathers were required to bring him down. Although he handed the ball back to the referee calmly, the look in Moore’s eyes was anything but subdued. He was running angry, as Heinrichs instructed.
“I think a lot of people on our team felt a little chippy,” Moore said. “Hesston is a great rivalry; we had to come and play.”
“We told them run fast and when you get there, get there with an attitude,” Heinrichs said.
Moore picked up another first down on a sweep to get Hillsboro to first and goal. He then punched the ball in on a quarterback sneak.
Hillsboro recovered a botched rolling kickoff near the Hesston 40-yard line. The play acted as a long onside kick. After a short run by Tyler Proffitt, Moore connected with Klassen on the second touchdown. The Trojans missed the ensuing extra point.
Seemingly unfazed by the Hillsboro scoring flourish, Hesston picked up two rushing first downs. However, on the next rushing attempt, Moore tackled Perry, stripped the ball, and fell on top of the loose pigskin for a fumble recovery. Suddenly, the Trojans had complete control of the game.
“It was all the team, all those guys,” Moore said. “They succeed, so I succeed.”
The next Trojan Heinrichs pointed out for supreme effort was Ollenburger. Ollenburger intercepted a pass in the second quarter that led to a failed Hillsboro field goal attempt. Thiessen also caught an interception that ended the first half.
The play that summed up Ollenburger’s willingness to sacrifice his body was a Hesston kickoff return in the third quarter. The Hesston returner fumbled the low kick and Ollenburger streaked down the field. The Swather was able to pounce on the loose ball just a moment before Ollenburger arrived. The play ended around the Swather 20-yard line and it knocked the wind out of Ollenburger, but it was an example of the hustle the wide receiver and defensive back displayed all night long.
“He’s 135 pounds, catching the ball,” Moore said of his receiver. “He’s a man.”
Another Hillsboro offensive player who showed toughness was Proffitt at running back. Unlike the platoon system the Trojans had used in previous games, he was the Trojans’ only running back during the game and rushed for 90 yards.
His longest run was for 8 yards. Proffitt repeatedly picked up 2, 4, and 6 yards at a time running between the Trojan tackles. He only suffered one negative run when he was stood up for a 2-yard loss in the third quarter. Proffitt helped give Hillsboro a 155 to 123 rushing edge in yardage.
After Hesston’s first series, the Trojan defense was stout. Perry eventually compiled 142 yards rushing, but he needed 27 carries to do it. The next leading rusher for Hesston, Trevor Pauls, ended the night with -19 yards rushing.
Three Trojan defensive linemen came up with big plays in the second half.
Tyrell Thiessen, playing on the line instead of at linebacker for the first time this season, forced and recovered a fumble, which set up a Jesse Brown field goal in the third quarter.
Dylan Jirak stonewalled a fourth-and-2 rushing attempt, standing up Perry and pushing him backward for a loss. The crack of the punishing hit could be heard on the sideline.
Nathan Unruh recorded a sack, which stymied a Hesston drive in the fourth quarter.
“We were pretty basic,” defensive coordinator Dennis Boldt said. “We stayed home on plays. Sometimes when we blitz it puts the kid in a bad position.”
The Trojans play Kingman for their homecoming game Friday and then head to Lindsborg to play Smoky Valley on Oct. 6.
While they will look ahead, forgive the Trojans if they want to savor this victory over Hesston a little longer.
“This is a big game for us; This was a ranked 4A team,” Heinrichs said. “This is how we’ll measure ourselves. We showed mettle tonight.”