Big plays on both sides of the ball paved the way for Hillsboro’s 20-0 win over Smoky Valley Friday at Joel H. Wiens Stadium.
The win moves the Trojans to 5-0 overall and 3-0 in the North Division of the Central Kansas League while the Vikings fell, 3-2 and 2-1.
“We knew this was the stretch where we needed to get better,” coach Lance Sawyer said. “The kids fought hard the whole game and we played pretty well.”
It appeared in the first half that neither team would find a way to score. Smoky Valley came close on its first possession, driving from its 37-yard line all the way to the Trojan 5 before Hillsboro shut the Vikings down.
But lightning—personified by Shaq Thiessen—struck twice with less than three minutes left in the half.
On first down at the Trojan 26, Hillsboro quarterback Tyler Proffitt unleashed a bomb down the Smoky Valley sideline that Thiessen snagged over the head of his defender, then ran the final yards for the 74-yard touchdown. Jesse Brown’s kick made it 7-0 with 2:29 showing.
Six plays into Smoky’s next possession, Viking quarterback Ethan Loder fired a pass downfield, but Thiessen picked it off near midfield and ran it back all the way to the Viking 1-yard line.
Proffitt scored the touchdown one play later and Brown followed with another PAT kick to make it 14-0 with 1:06 left in the half. A stunned Viking squad could only run out the clock with the hope of regrouping for the second half.
“That changed the momentum of the entire game,” Sawyer said of Thiessen’s two plays. “I thought it took Smoky Valley and put them down.”
Proffitt gave the Vikings a lift when he threw a pass into the hands Smoky’s Holden Hendricks five plays into the third quarter to give the Vikings the ball at the Trojan 13.
But Hillsboro returned the favor moments later when Brown stepped in front of a Viking receiver at the goal line and snagged Loder’s pass over the middle.
After the Trojans went three-and-out, Smoky Valley set up camp at their own 24. Loder then fumbled on the first play of the possession. Hillsboro defensive end Josh Wiebe picked up the football and ran 19 yards for the score with 7:43 left in the third quarter. Brown missed the kick but Hillsboro led 20-0.
The remainder of the game turned out to be a series of missed opportunities by both teams. Brown intercepted Loder two more times, while Proffitt lost a fumble with the Trojans threatening in the red zone.
Late in the game, it appeared the Vikings might break the shutout when they drove from their own 20 to the Trojan 6 in 14 plays. But Evan Ollenburger intercepted Loder —this time in the end zone with 3:45 to play—to snuff out the Vikings’ hopes.
The final score was about the only stat where Hillsboro held a clear advantage on offense. The two teams played to a stalemate with 216 yards of total offense for Hillsboro and 215 for Smoky Valley. Both teams managed 11 first downs.
“We had a lot of mistakes,” Sawyer said about his offense. “We have a lot of things to clean up this week before we play Remington.”
Hillsboro’s six defensive takeaways were the difference in the game.
“We knew they were physical,” Sawyer said. “We played well to stop their offense. It’s big to get that goose egg. It’s great for those kids and their confidence is going to be high.”
Coming—Hillsboro will host Remington (0-5) for Friday’s homecoming game at Joel H. Wiens Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.