Trojans fall in district opener
Swathers second half mows down Hillsboro, 41-6
With two games left in the regular season, time’s not exactly on the Trojans football team’s side when it comes to figuring out how to withstand a potent ground attack for a full 48 minutes.
One half is feasible, but two has proven to be too tough to tackle.
That set the table for kickback Friday night with Hillsboro facing the Hesston Swathers in district play at home.
After playing Hesston to a 13-6 first half, the Trojans simply wore out, with 28 of 41 consecutive Swathers points coming in the second half.
“We’re in district play where you get new life, we’ve got to figure out how to play a full 48 minutes” a humbled Trojans coach Devin Metzinger said. “We’ve got to figure out how to come out after halftime with that same intensity that we had the first half and keep it going and carrying on.”
Easier said than done, especially facing a team featuring one of the state’s premier backs in Parker Roth.
The explosive junior alone outdid the Trojans’ entire offensive output by 6 yards, running roughshod for a game-high 188 yards and four touchdowns in just 12 carries.
Toss in quarterback Cameron Cox, who added 169 more yards, and two more touchdowns to the tune of 357 yards from the tandem, the second half transformed into a nightmare for Hillsboro.
For the second consecutive week Trojans starting quarterback Kaden Kleiner was on the sideline, leaving Darian Ratzlaff to assume the duties.
Ratzlaff was 11-of-20 passing for 134 yards to go along with 24 rushing, but it was his interception on the Swathers’ opening drive that made for the Trojans’ go-ahead score.
Four of Ratzlaff’s 11 completions went to Jacob Funk, and facing a second-and-13, the duo connected for a 46-yard touchdown nearly 5 minutes into the game.
Wes Shaw’s PAT attempt was no good, but the Trojans were in front 6-0.
That lead lasted only as long as it took for Roth to reach the end zone, as perhaps Class 3A’s fastest player broke loose from a pile up and scampered 80 yards for the tying touchdown.
Already with a slew of key Trojans out nursing injuries, standout Brooks Gardner joined the list with 1:10 still left in the first half.
In quite possibly his final heroics of the season, Gardner blocked Jorge Morales’ PAT kick that left the game locked up with 6:45 to go in the first frame.
Averaging nearly 18 yards a carry, Roth gashed the Trojans defense for touchdown runs of 14, 2, and 45 yards, with the next one breaking the tie with 11 minutes left in the half.
Hillsboro had an excellent chance to tie the game by halftime, chewing up well over 5 minutes and driving into Hesston territory.
Hindered by a pair of penalties and a high snap, the drive ended up stalling just past midfield.
The Swathers had a chance to bump the lead up by the break, but Morales’ 24-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right.
Cox’s 361 total yards, 192 passing, helped open the floodgates on Hillsboro to start the second half, when he found Reese Nebel for a 25-yard completion.
Six plays later, Roth was in for his third touchdown to stretch the lead to 20-6.
Cox’s biggest play came after the Trojans drove in reverse on their opening drive of the half, lighting off for a 69-yard touchdown on the first play for a 27-6 lead.
Of the Swathers’ five second- half possessions, four resulted in points, while Hillsboro spent much of the half behind midfield.
The Trojans did, however, threaten late in the game, with Ratzlaff hitting Justin Siebert for a 36-yard completion to get them to the Swather 23.
Nothing came of it, with Hillsboro turning the ball over on downs at the 14.
The loss drops Hillsboro to 1-6 on the year heading into a home showdown with Marion on Friday.
Last modified Oct. 19, 2017