Turnovers, poor tackling, and big plays figured in to Hillsboro’s 39-6 loss at Lyons, but in spite of six consecutive defeats, coach Lance Sawyer said he sees progress from a squad short on experience and size.
Hillsboro’s lone score came on a 55-yard touchdown run by Kaden Kleiner, but the Trojans put together several good drives that Sawyer found encouraging.
“I think we drove the ball well,” he said. “We’d get 40 yards downfield and turn the ball over.”
Sawyer credited in part the offensive line for improved play.
“We’ve been starting five young offensive linemen, and they’re coming around,” he said. “We’re developing our chemistry, and this week we’ll have the same lineup as last week for the first time.”
What had been an anemic ground game all season picked up with the insertion of Jorge Hanschu into the backfield.
“We ran the ball better than we have all year,” Sawyer said. “Jorge is a little quicker and able to get out in the open field, and he’s able to make people miss. He runs hard, and the element of speed helps him tremendously.”
Defensively, the Trojans forced fumbles and got an interception by Braden Vogt, but were hurt by giving up big plays. Lyons scored on plays of 31, 33, and 65 yards, and had a 68-yard score negated by a penalty.
Sawyer said defenders too often were isolated one-on-one against Lyons runners.
“We need to gang tackle more,” he said. “We’re not swarming like we should. It’s our inability to make tackles at the point of attack. Most of the time we had people in the spots.”
District play begins Friday, and while the prospects of an 0-6 team reversing the trend against the likes of Hesston, Southeast of Saline, and Council Grove could be daunting, Sawyer remains encouraged by the attitude his players bring to the task.
“Our enthusiasm is there; the kids know we’re close,” he said. “They still have great attitudes and they’re eager to get better every day.”
Getting better will require improved discipline, cutting down errors, and improved game management, he said.
“We need to learn how to win games, how to stay in games, how to convert third downs, how to manage time better,” he said. “I would like them to learn how to compete and what it takes to win some of these games, rather than just play in them.”
The Trojans will face Hesston on Friday at Wiens Stadium.