Hesston didn’t have the superior record it has enjoyed in recent years, but the Swathers proved they are the team to beat in Class 3A District 12 with a 49-20 win over Hillsboro Friday on the Swathers’ home field.
Few Trojans fans expected their team to prevail, but given Hesston’s 3-3 record coming into the first round of district play, a competitive game was at least a possibility.
But the Swathers chewed through the Trojan defense on each of their first six possessions to take a 40-7 lead into halftime. Hesston took the opening kickoff and scored six plays later on a 8-yard run by quarterback Zach Esau less then 2 minutes into the contest.
The Trojans’ finest hour — actually their finest 3:11 — occurred during their first possession, when they marched 75 yards in seven plays, climaxing with a 14-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kaden Kleiner to wide receiver Carson Herbel at the 6:55 mark. Jeffrey Jorgenson’s kick tied the game at 7-7.
While Hesston continued to score on consecutive possessions, the Trojans simply could not. By the end of the opening quarter, Hesston was in control with a 27-7 lead. Two more scores in the second quarter bumped the lead to 40-7 by intermission.
After a three-and-out by Hillsboro to start the third quarter, Hesston kicked the game into continuous-clock territory when Tanner Blachman scored on a 41-yard pass from Esau when Hillsboro’s defender lost his footing.
Having exceeded the mandatory 35-point spread with a 46-7 score, the third quarter slipped passed quickly. Hillsboro went three-and-out once more, then Hesston countered with a 10-play, 52-yard drive that ended with Alex Hostetter scampering into the end zone from six yards out as time ran out. The PAT kick made it 49-7 with one quarter to play.
Hillsboro made the final margin more respectable with two late scores. The first one came on a 55-yard pass from Kleiner to Jacob Funk at about the 4:32 mark.
Hillsboro regained possession when a bad snap by Hesston resulted in a fumble recovery by the Trojans at the Swather 8-yard line with about 2:48 to play. Three plays later, Kleiner swept the right side for a 4-yard score with 1:06 remaining.
Hillsboro, now 2-5 for the season, will travel to Marion next Friday for Round 2. The previously undefeated Warriors lost to still undefeated Southeast of Saline on Friday night by a score of 48-6. Hesston will face the Southeast Trojans in a game that likely will determine the district championship.