Hutchinson-Trinity slams brakes on Trojans' season
Hillsboro High School quarterback Ben Gottsch lay motionless on the ground Nov. 4 on Hutchinson-Trinity’s field in the closing moments of Hillsboro’s first-round playoff loss.
Needing to convert on fourth-and-long to have a slight chance to stay alive in the 3A state football playoffs, Gottsch couldn’t find a receiver to haul in the catch.
The Celtics were able to run out the clock, spoiling the Trojans’ bids at making it three straight seasons of lasting longer than the first round with a 16-7 victory, causing Gottsch to reflect on his final game.
Hillsboro saw its season end at 6-4.
“We didn’t get into this game emotionally,” a somber Hillsboro coach Len Coryea said. “We just didn’t get there, I was afraid of that.
“They (Celtics) were just crushing us. They played hard, they beat us, and I give them the credit.”
The Trojans hardly looked like the same team that battled back through adversity throughout the season.
Gottsch had to pick himself up off the field after being sacked four times, and Hillsboro’s offense looked discombobulated throughout the majority of the game.
With a powerful south wind, field position played a crucial factor in the game — and it hurt the Trojans more so than the Celtics.
Hillsboro was hampered by rugged field position all night — never starting further than its own 31 while seven of Trinity’s drives started past its own 40.
Whether the wind affected the Trojans’ mindset is unknown, but Hillsboro never got on track offensively, finishing with a modest 198 yards total.
The Trojans have had the tendency to be most successful when running back Ishmael Morris and receiver Daniel Jost are on their games.
Come Tuesday, the Celtics neutralized the tandem with Morris being held to just 80 yards on 19 carries and Jost to a pair of catches for 47 yards.
Jost furnished Hillsboro its only score of the game, hauling in a four-yard touchdown from Gottsch with 21 seconds left in the first quarter to put the Trojans in front, 7-0, after Jacob Wiebe’s PAT kick.
The Celtics then put 16 unanswered points on Hillsboro taking advantage of excellent field position, regardless of the wind.
The Trojans never had an answer for Taylor Engweiler, who rushed for a game-high 132 yards.
Trinity’s worst starting point — its own 30 — still proved productive with Hillsboro suffering a breakdown in pass coverage.
Facing a third-and-six at his own 34, Celtic quarterback Derek Racette went long for a wide open Michael Mesh for a 65-yard touchdown 11 seconds into the second quarter.
The extra-point was blocked and the Trojans clung to a 7-6 lead.
Trinity had two chances to overtake the lead in the first half, but Ben Bebermeyer was there for an interception and the Trojans held on fourth down inside their own 30.
Offensively, Hillsboro was only past midfield one more time, leaving its defense to carry the burden of protecting the lead.
The score stayed 7-6 at halftime and Taylor Hagen dashed one more chance for the Celtics overtaking the lead, blocking Mesh’s field goal attempt to start the second half.
The Trojans could only avert disaster for so long after stopping several Celtic drives deep in Hillsboro territory, and Hillsboro only had itself to blame.
Morris lost the ball on first-and-10 inside the Trojans 20 and Mesh was there for the recovery at the Hillsboro 16.
The Celtics took over the game with Mesh connecting on a 24-yard field goal with 7:04 left in the third quarter, making it a 9-7 game.
Bebermeyer struck again, picking off his second pass deep in Hillsboro territory, but the Trojans got nothing out of it with the drive stalling at midfield.
Engweiler never reached the end zone, but his 65-yard punt return set up the Celtics with the blow it needed to finish the Trojans to start the fourth quarter.
Once again Hillsboro’s defense stopped Trinity inside the Trojans’ five with Hagen breaking up Racette’s pass on fourth-and-five.
Hagen was shaken up on the coverage and didn’t return to action, but Hillsboro had to drive 98 yards in 6:37 with the wind at its back.
The Trojans gained only 21 yards and the Trinity defense held on fourth down, giving it an excellent starting spot again at the Hillsboro 16.
Racette made the most of it, plunging up the middle from the one to give the Celtics a 15-7 lead with 2:27 left.
Mesh put the lock on the game with the PAT kick, making it a two-score game for Hillsboro with 2:23 to go.
Hillsboro’s chances ended with Gottsch’s pass on fourth down falling incomplete with the Celtics hammering the Trojan quarterback.
“We didn’t want to lose, we just didn’t get that emotional charge,” Coryea said. “It wasn’t there like it was the last two games, you could see it in the locker room .. that’s high school football.
“It was a great year for us. I’m real proud of the guys. I’m so proud of the way they played all year, I can’t be disappointed.”
So ends the high school careers of Morris, Gottsch, Jost, Andy Klassen, Tyler Jones, Isaac Leihy, John Hein, Tyler Lofton, Brandon Brown, Justin Wodke, Jacob Craney, and Jacob Kenney.
The Celtics saw their season come to an end Saturday, getting demolished, 56-14, by the top-ranked defending state champion Garden Plain Owls.
Last modified Nov. 12, 2008