Trojans hit winning note
First-year coach gets balanced game in 28-12 win over Sacred Heart
It’s highly unlikely any of first-year Trojan coach Max Heinrichs’ players can remember the year their coach last tasted victory as a head football coach.
The current seniors were just beginning kindergarten in 1996.
Thirteen years since his last win at Minneapolis High School, Heinrichs helped christen the fresh AstroTurf of Wiens Stadium in Hillsboro Friday night with a deceivingly close 28-12 win over the Sacred Heart Knights.
None of the Trojans or Heinrichs lost any teeth, but a big third quarter from the Knights gave Hillsboro all it could handle.
“I wanted to slow the game down and just run the ball. They came out and hit us in the mouth,” an exasperated Heinrichs said. “They (Knights) did a great job, I was wanting to run a couple of blasts and go down the field with it, but boy howdy, they stopped it.”
Not before the game was out of reach to break the Knights’ hearts, though, and thanks to a tough Trojan defense they were able to clinch the win.
If there’s a way to have a game implode, the Knights followed the blueprint to a T, committing three first-half turnovers.
Sacred Heart fumbled twice — the first set up the Trojans with excellent field position.
Jacob Fish was 8-for-17 for 136 yards and three touchdowns, hitting Jacob Edwards for the go-ahead touchdown from 22 yards out with 6:44 left in the first quarter.
Edwards received two of Fish’s touchdowns, hauling in four catches for a team-high 66 yards.
Ethan Frantz was 2-of-3 on PAT kicks with his first one sailing wide right.
Still, Hillsboro was on top, 6-0.
The Knights’ nightmare continued on their next drive with Matt Yoder intercepting Jordan Jerkovich on third-and-long.
The tandem of Fish and Edwards hooked up again — from 27 this time — to stretch Hillsboro’s lead to 12-0 with just over two minutes still left in the first quarter.
Jerkovich got the Knights into Trojan territory, but Caleb Hilliard spoiled any chance of Sacred Heart getting anything with one of three Jerkovich interceptions.
The Trojans were unable to extend the lead, going three-and-out. All that was missing from the Knights’ list for a meltdown was a safety.
Sacred Heart accommodated that, too, with Jerkovich putting Hillsboro ahead, 14-0, with 5:25 to go in the first half.
Fish gave the Trojans a commanding 21-0 by halftime, firing a 24-yard dart to Ben Bebermeyer with 1:19 left.
Hillsboro had one more chance to increase the lead with Dylan Delk recovering a bad snap, but the abysmal first half finally ended for the Knights.
With all-state fullback Colby Wetter in the backfield, Heinrichs knew it was only a matter of time before the Knights would strike.
Wetter finished with a game-high 18 carries for 67 yards and 41 yards receiving, ripping off gains of 20, 16, and 7 to set up Sacred Heart at the Trojan 14.
Three plays later, the Knights were back in the game after Zach Littell scored on a 2-yard option around the right side, cutting the lead to 21-6 with the two-point conversion failing.
The Knights shut down the Trojan offense, holding them to three-and-outs on their first three drives of the second half.
Hillsboro had a chance to kill a drive inside its own 25 with Taylor Hagen dropping Jerkovich for a 6-yard loss.
Facing a fourth-and-20, Jerkovich went deep to Little for a 30-yard gain.
One play later, the Knights were within 21-12 with Wetter scoring on a 3-yard run with 1:11 left in the third.
With five turnovers on the night, the final one did Sacred Heart in.
The Knights drove 46 yards with Jerkovich supplying 20 to get Sacred Heart to the Trojan 28.
Chris Schafer ruined that, recovering a fumble with just inside five minutes to go.
Heinrichs kept the Knight defense off balance, using six different players in the backfield to help gain 108 yards rushing.
Hilliard finished off Sacred Heart for good, scoring on second-and-goal with a 9-yard run for the final with 3:37 still to play.
“They spread us apart,” Heinrichs said of the Knights’ third-quarter surge. “We were wondering when he (Wetter) was going to show up. We’d been doing a pretty good job of stuffing him.
“We made some calls at the right time. It was a great team effort and I’m pretty proud of them. I like our enthusiasm and I liked that we could do a lot of our offense even though it’s not polished yet. We’ve got to polish it.”
The Trojans face another tough home test this Friday hosting one of the biggest thorns in Hillsboro’s side this decade in Gary Sandbo’s Smoky Valley Vikings.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Wiens Stadium.
Last modified Sept. 9, 2009