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Magical season ends for Hillsboro

Panthers upend Trojans, 45-20

Staff writer

Getting beat by a team like Pittsburg-St. Mary’s Colgan is certainly no disgrace.

The Panthers don’t lose often.

While the Trojan football team was making its first appearance in the state playoffs in six years, the road to a state title runs through Colgan on a yearly basis.

Not many schools outside perhaps Silver Lake and Smith Center can match Colgan’s small school success and football tradition.

All three of the trio’s former or current coaches can be found a short drive away to Newton at the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Colgan’s former 37-year coach Chuck Smith is now part of the Kansas House of Representatives.

Tradition wasn’t all the Trojans were battling in the second round Friday night at Pittsburg, but a team as dangerous both offensively and defensively as what Hillsboro’s seen.

Heading into Friday, the Panthers had outscored opponents 353-87, while allowing a stingy 10 points a game.

Games have a knack of quickly coming unraveled on Panther opponents and the first half was more than the Trojans could stand.

Had it not been for the Panthers’ 31-point first half, Hillsboro’s season would’ve extended with the Trojans outscoring Colgan 20-14 the second half.

The Trojans’ best season since 2012 ended at 7-3 on a 45-20 loss while Colgan stays alive at 8-2.

“Colgan was a solid team across the board,” Trojan coach Devin Metzinger said. “Of course that’s what you expect when you start to get deeper in the playoffs.”

Outside a 22-20 loss to 4A Abilene, Centralia and Hillsboro have been the only two teams to put 20 points on Colgan this year with the other Panthers from Centralia handing Colgan its other loss with a 20-0 shutout.

The Panthers’ ground attack gave the Trojans bigger headaches, stinging them for 328 yards rushing and 416 total yards.

That’s added up to bad news all year with all three of the Trojans’ losses coming when opponents put up at least 300 yards rushing and 400 total.

Colgan quarterback Cade Simmons was a big part of that, having a hand in all four of the Panthers’ first-half touchdowns, including a 51-yard run, while throwing for two more.

One was a 56-yard bomb to Cal Marquardt, which added to Hillsboro being in grave danger by halftime.

Playing their final high school game, Jorge Hanschu and Brooks Gardner made sure the Trojans didn’t go quietly.

Hanschu closed out his career completing 10-of-20 for a game-high 148 yards passing, including hitting for Gardner on a 64-yard touchdown to start the second half.

The point-after attempts were a sore spot all season and 1-for-3 on the night only let Hillsboro pull to 31-6.

Gardner carried 15 times for a team-high 97 yards while hauling in two passes for 76.

Hillsboro had a balanced game offensively with 175 yards coming on the ground and 323 total yards, but a woeful 2-for-11 on third down didn’t allow the Trojans to sustain many drives.

With their fate long since sealed, Hanschu capped off both his career and season scoring on a 5-yard touchdown for Hillsboro’s last points and 45-20 final.

Graduation will take its toll on the Trojans with the loss of Hanschu, Gardner, Darian Ratzlaff, Wes Shaw, Lane Flaming, Kyle Horton, Connor Morey, and Josiah Driggers.

“This senior class was fantastic for us,” Metzinger said. “They had a huge hand in raising the standard for our program, they’re a great group of kids that will be missed not only on Friday night, but on the practice field and in the weight room as well.”

But Hillsboro’s success allowed underclassmen to gain experience to build off of this season to again challenge for a late push next year.

“It’s obviously too early to think about next year, but we’re excited for what may be to come,” said Metzinger. “A few kids this year got some playing time on Friday nights to help them get ready for next season.

“We saw a lot of good things on Monday nights in JV that makes us feel confident that we can recapture what we had this season.”

Last modified Nov. 8, 2018

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