There’s a saying in football: Live by the pass, die by the pass. At Hoisington on Friday, Hillsboro died, as the Cardinals demolished the Trojans 76-6.
Hillsboro has had trouble establishing a running game this season, and it was no different Friday. The Cardinals completely shut down Tyson Reimer and Jorge Hanschu, as the Trojans duo combined for just 6 carries and minus 3 yards.
“We just couldn’t get anything going,” coach Lance Sawyer said. “We were struggling enough with their front three that we couldn’t get to the second level.”
Freed from providing support against the run, the Cardinals defensive secondary zeroed in on Trojans receivers, intercepting Hillsboro quarterback Kaden Kleiner five times, including a second-quarter pick for a touchdown.
“They were sitting on the deep balls and they had people underneath, too,” Sawyer said. “We need to be able to run the ball, or otherwise that’s going to continue to happen.”
The Cardinals jumped on top on the opening kickoff, which Cameron Davis returned 78 yards for a touchdown. Hoisington scored eight more times before intermission, leading 62-0 at halftime.
“They took the kick back right away,” Sawyer said. “We had a good offensive play and then we had two miscues. We punted, it took them three plays to score, and it seemed after that we broke a little bit. I think our youth showed up.”
With the clock running in the second half, Hoisington increased its lead to 68-0 when Davis returned a punt 76 yards for a score.
Hillsboro responded with its only score of the game, a 5-yard pass from Kleiner to Jacob Funk that capped a 70-yard drive against Hoisington’s reserves.
Kleiner completed 19 of 34 passes for 213 yards and 1 touchdown. Carson Herbel gained 110 yards on 6 receptions, and Funk pulled in 4 passes for 59 yards and a touchdown.
“Carson Herbel has really impressed us,” Sawyer said. “He runs extremely good routes, and he’s making plays. He’s finally making people miss, and so he had quite a bit of yardage after the catch.”
Sawyer also singled out Brody Rathbone for his offensive and defensive line play.
“The kid works extremely hard and he’s playing pretty good football right now.”
The Trojans ran 48 plays to the Cardinals’ 42, but Hoisington piled up 507 total yards, including 341 on the ground.
Joe Knoll led Hillsboro defenders with 5 tackles, followed by Brandon Klassen with 2.5.
After losing in consecutive weeks to powerhouses Halstead and Hoisington, the Trojans return home to face 1-3 Smoky Valley on Friday. Sawyer is eager to take on the Vikings.
“It’s a team we match up better with,” he said. “One of the things Smoky does well is run the ball, and that’s one of the things we’re struggling to stop. It will be good to see if we can bounce back and play better against the run.”
Sawyer expects receiver Eliot Ollenburger to return to the starting lineup after having recovered from an injury.
“We’re excited to get Eliot back because he’s somebody that can actually break something once he catches the ball,” Sawyer said. “We need that one kid that can break it, and I think he’s that kid.”
Homecoming candidates will be introduced and a king and queen announced prior to Friday’s kickoff.