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Trojans re-boot after Hoisington loss

News editor

If there was a silver lining to be found in Hillsboro’s 35-6 homecoming loss to Hoisington on Friday, a game in which the Cardinals piled up 449 total yards, most people wouldn’t start looking for it with the defense.

Trojans head coach Lance Sawyer, however, isn’t most people.

“I think the defense improved 10 times from last week to this week,” Sawyer said. “There were five forced fumbles, and we should’ve had a pick. The guys made plays, they had a defensive touchdown — I’d take that every week.”

That touchdown came on a scintillating interception return by Justus Hilliard as time was running out in the first half. Hoisington had the ball at the Hillsboro 46 with 40 seconds left, and threw a deep pass that Hilliard picked off. Hilliard cut back twice to avoid tacklers before breaking into the open for Hillsboro’s only score of the game.

The Trojans offense put up 93 points in the team’s first three games, but came up empty against the Cardinals, who held them to only 125 yards total offense.

“It’s because our offense didn’t move the ball that the score looked bad at the end,” Sawyer said. “That was the most disappointing thing to me. I thought at times we moved the ball well, but we put ourselves in bad situations we’re always third-and-9, third-and-10, and our offense isn’t built for that right now.”

Sawyer and his coaching staff started looking for answers to turn around the Trojans’ three-game skid right after Friday’s game. It’s a routine familiar to the staff.

“We watched film Friday night, we went back and statted the whole thing out,” Sawyer said. “We take it home and watch it individually, and we take notes about what worked and what we need to improve. We spent about two hours on Sunday talking through our film and what we have upcoming.”

Coming out of the discussions, Sawyer said, was the resolve to change some things while “staying the course” on others.

“We had to make sure we’re doing the right things,” Sawyer said. “We have to make sure what we’re doing is fitting our kids the best. By now we can tell personnel didn’t fit some of the schemes we’re trying to do, so we’ll go back and look at how to do things that fit better with who we have.”

Running back Tyson Reimer should return to the lineup Friday after being sidelined for two weeks by an injury, Sawyer said, and that should help the offense.

“I think Reimer is healthier than he was a week ago, and we’ll let him and (Dusten) Plenert carry the load,” Sawyer said.

Reimer’s return will put Jesse Meier back on the offensive line, where he started the season before filling in at running back.

“He did some great things at running back, but he helps us so much in the line,” Sawyer said. “When we came into the year the line was going to be our strength, and we’ve got to get back to that to be successful.”

It’s on the defensive side where Sawyer, bolstered by the unit’s progress against Hoisington, believes the Trojans are on the right track.

“We’ll do some individual drills to improve some scheme stuff,” Sawyer said. “Our biggest goal is to get the offense going and get a rhythm going.”

Despite the three-game losing streak, Sawyer said the team’s attitude remains upbeat.

“Friday night, if you’d have asked me, I’d have thought it would be down,” Sawyer said. “Our kids came Monday with a great attitude. They want to get better, they’re willing to do the work. The adversity is there, we just have to get over it. You couldn’t ask for a better group of kids.”

Sawyer will find out Friday if he and his staff have made the right adjustments when they go on the road to face Smoky Valley.

Last modified Oct. 2, 2014

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