ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
One year ago, Hesston was riding high with an 8-0 record and needed only to get past 6-2 Hillsboro in the last game of the regular season to win the district championship.
But on that night, Hillsboro, with the help of a missed extra point and a fired-up home crowd, spoiled the Swathers’ dream season, 14-13, at Reimer Field.
This year, the situation is the same, but the roles are switched-Hillsboro is 8-0 and Hesston 7-1. But Hillsboro coach Dustin McEwen and his charges will be doing all they can to keep their dream season intact when they travel to Hesston for the District 10 championship showdown Thursday evening.
“We’ve talked about that and we know we’re going in facing a rowdy crowd like they faced last year,” McEwen said. “We’ll just play our game and see if they can stop it.”
The two teams come into this game with different weapons on offense.
The Trojans’ offensive game is diversified. Not only does Hillsboro mix the run (269 yards per game) and pass (86 yards), but also spreads out the workload among four quick and speedy running backs-Ross Duerksen, Alan Yoder, Kris Jones and Phillip-as well as quarterback Dustin Jost, who has proven himself to be a threat to run or pass.
The Swathers’ game, meanwhile, fires mostly on two powerful pistons-the legs of running back Brian Rouhlac. Working behind a big and talented offensive line, the 6-0 junior has rolled up 1,486 yards this season-including 216 against Herington last week-on 197 carries. That’s an average of more than 7.5 yards per carry.
“We’re going to have a challenge with Rouhlac,” McEwen said. “He’s a big back, he’s tough to tackle.”
But if Hillsboro has an edge, it’s on defense. The Trojans lead the MCAA in every defensive category, including fewest points (51), rushing yards (72.4 per game) and passing yards (32.9.
Hesston’s defense, meanwhile, is not far enough behind statistically to give the Trojans any room for over confidence. The Swathers have given up 84 points, just over 1,000 rushing yards and 500 passing yards.
“This will be a game between two good teams and from schools that have been good rivals for a long time,” McEwen said. “We’ll just have to wait and see.”
Game time is 7 p.m.