HHS succumbs to ranked Cardinals

Braden Vogt wraps up Hoisington’s Hunter Hanzlick during the first quarter of play Friday. Hillsboro lost to the state-ranked Cardinals, 41-0. To appreciate the growth of Hillsboro’s football team from one year ago is to do so by incremental improvements against one of the best teams in Class 3A.

The Trojans lost 41-0 Friday to Hoi­sington, the No. 3 ranked team in Class 3A, at Joel Wiens Stadium. But one year earlier, the inexperienced Trojans lost 76-6 on the road, and trailed the Cardinals 56-0 by halftime.

This year the Trojans trailed 28-0 at intermission. And while a year ago the entire second half was played with a running clock, this season Hillsboro maintained a regulation clock until the final nine minutes of the game.

That said, the Cardinals dominated the game with their combination of quickness and physical play, the latter resulting in at least two injured Trojans leaving the game and a handful more shaken up.

Hoisington didn’t score its first touchdown until 3:27 remained in the first quarter. Cardinal quarterback Tyler Specht squeezed into the end zone from 7 yards out, and the extra point made it 7-0.

In the second quarter, the Cardinals added a second score on a 10-yard run by their standout running back, Hunter Hanzlick, for a 14-0 lead.

After a Trojan four-and-out, Specht capped the next Cardinal drive with a 9-yard touchdown run that created a 21-0 advantage with 5:18 remaining in the first half.

When Hoisington forced Hills­boro to punt once more before intermission, Specht made them pay by capping an eight-play, 62-yard scoring drive with a 2-yard touchdown run with 30 seconds left.

The 28-0 halftime deficit put Hillsboro within a touchdown and an extra point of a running clock. On the opening possession of the second half, Hoisington secured the touchdown on a four-yard run by Hanzlick that capped a 52-yard, eight-play drive at the 4:58 mark. This time, though, the extra-point kick missed the mark, keeping the regulation clock in play at 34-0.

The Cardinals were set up for their final touchdown when a snap from center sailed over the head of Trojan quarterback Kaden Kleiner on fourth down.

Kleiner covered the ball, but Hoisington took over on downs at the Trojan 23. Four plays later, Specht connected with Cameron Davis on a 5-yard pass that kicked in the running clock at 9:21.

“They’re definitely physical at the point of attack,’ coach Devin Metzinger said. “On top of being physical, they’re very fast. They can get out of position and recover very quickly. That makes it difficult to find holes and exploit them.”

Hoisington rolled up 357 yards of offense, with all but 35 coming on the ground. The Trojans managed just 75 total yards, 48 of them coming on 22 running plays.

“We felt like we could come out and match their intensity and match their speed, but we never matched their physicalness tonight,” Metzinger said. “That caused us some problems early, especially on defense.”

With the win, the Cardi­nals improved to 3-0 while Hillsboro slipped to 1-2.

Coming—The Trojans will take on 2-1 Smoky Valley Friday at Lindsborg.

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