Matchup with Marion to decide playoff fate
He did it again. For the third week in a row, Hillsboro High School wide receiver Shaq Thiessen made an incredible athletic play on a touchdown at the end of the second quarter Friday against Remington in a 41-12 Hillsboro victory.
It is part three of the trilogy, which began with a one-handed catch in the end zone against Smoky Valley and continued with a tip catch for a deep touchdown against Southeast of Saline. Each of the plays ended the first half in each game.
“It’s just come out that way,” Thiessen said of making a habit of ridiculous touchdown catches. “Luke throws it up and I go get it.”
Thiessen started the drive by intercepting a Remington pass the Trojan goal line. Hillsboro had the ball at midfield with 1 minute, 17 seconds left in the first half. They were up 13-6. A long go route completion to Devin Dick on the right sideline put Hillsboro within 25 yards of the goal line. After an incompletion, the Trojans ran play “6-38” with 7.3 seconds left in the half.
The play called for Thiessen to make a double move, fake an in route, and then drift past the front left pylon on a fade. Moore looked off the defense momentarily to the right before fixing on Thiessen running up the left sideline. Moore lofted the ball high into the air with Thiessen past the defender.
Seeing the pass on its way down, Thiessen showed off the vertical leaping ability that makes him a high jumper in the spring. He leapt and caught the pass at its highest point where only he could catch it; had Thiessen mistimed the jump, the pass might have sailed out of the end zone. The score put Hillsboro up, 20-6, at halftime.
“He’s good; we know it,” head coach Max Heinrichs said. “If we get him to go all the time, we’re good. We get him and Tyrell, we’re even better. If we get both of them and Dylan Jirak to go then we’re clicking on all cylinders like we were against Hesston.”
It was one reception, one touchdown for Thiessen on the night, but he thought the interception was more important. Playing free safety, he notched the interception, catching that ball at its highest point about five yards from the Hillsboro goal line.
The Trojans scored their second tourchdown, to go up, 13-0, on a hook and lateral play with Aaron Klassen catching the ball in the middle of the field and then pitching the ball to a streaking Evan Ollenburger who sprinted up the right sideline. But Remington battled back to score on a 1-yard run by Luke Igo after a long drive with a minute left in the first quarter.
Moore dived for a yard for the Trojans first score.
To start the second quarter, Corbin Mitchell intercepted a Moore slant pass and Remington took over in Trojan territory. Thiessen said he and the receivers tried to find out if Moore was all right, it was his second interception of the game. He said it was the pressure from the Bronco defense forcing the throws into coverage. Thiessen talked to the line and the protection improved throughout the game.
The Trojan defense was looking to pick up Moore. The Hillsboro defense forced the Broncos to turn the ball over on fourth downs in consecutive possessions. The first a fourth down run stuff; the latter was Shaq Thiessen’s interception.
“It changed the motivation of the team,” Thiessen said of the interception. “It brought us back.”
Moore made up for an up-and-down passing day by picking up 149 yards on the ground and three touchdowns. The Trojans final score was an 88-yard option keeper by Moore.
Heinrichs said Hillsboro changed strategies from trying to spread Remington out to running the ball more out of power sets.
“A little bit of blast, a little bit of power,” Heinrichs said. “Then we started using the option. They were giving us the run and I was trying to force the pass.”
Moore averaged 13.5 yards per carry on 11 touches, and Tyler Proffitt put up 65 yards on 13 carries, 4.3 yards per carry.
About the time the momentum in the game was turning, defensive tackle Jirak started making his presence felt. The two factors were related. Jirak ended the game as Hillsboro’s top tackler with nine takedowns, three for a loss.
Tanner Jones and Devin Dick also recorded tackles for losses. Jones had the second-most solo tackles for the team with five.
“Tanner Jones really stepped up,” Heinrichs said
With Jirak blowing up plays in the backfield, the Trojans made five fourth-down stops to get Remington off the field.
Heinrichs was pleased that the Trojans, 4-4 this season, picked up their first road win of the season. The most important road game of the season will be played next week in Marion. With Marion losing to Southeast of Saline on Friday, the annual rivalry game will decide which Marion County team moves onto the state playoffs for the second year in a row.
“I have no doubt we will be ready to play, and I have no doubt they will be ready to play,” Heinrichs said. “It’s one of those games; we play our best against Marion and they play their best against Hillsboro.”