Jared King makes the hit on Sacred Heart runningback Cody Wetter during the first quarter of Friday?s opener. Also giving chase are Daniel Kunantaev (88) and Caleb Hilliard (5). HHS surrendered only76 rushing yards to the Knights for the game.
All in all, not a bad way to christen a new season, a new coach and a new stadium.
Three first-half touchdown passes by Jacob Fish helped fuel the Hillsboro Trojans to a 28-12 season-opening win over Sacred Heart of Salina at the new Joel Wiens Stadium in Hillsboro.
?The first game is huge,? said Max Heinrichs, who added head coaching duties to his job as principal this year. ?We played a quality opponent and we won. That?s really a nice thing.
?As a principal, it?s huge because the hallways will be nice,? he said with a smile. ?As a coach, when you win that first game of the season, in my years of experience, I?ve found it?s good for about two or three more, no matter what happens.?
The Trojans struck early in the contest. After stopping the Knights? opening possession in four plays, Hillsboro moved from its own 49-yard line into the end zone in eight plays, capped by Fish?s 23-yard scoring toss to wide receiver Jacob Edwards only 1:23 into the contest.
The kick by Ethan Frantz failed, but HHS led 6-0.
Three plays into the Knights? second possession, Matt Yoder intercepted a Jordan Jerkovich pass to give Hillsboro the ball at the Trojan 46-yard line.
Six plays later, Fish hit Edwards again for the touchdown, this time from 27 yards out. Fish?s pass for a 2-point conversion fell incomplete, keeping the margin at 12-0 with 2:14 left in the first period.
With 7:39 left in the half, Caleb Hilliard intercepted a Jerkovich pass to kill a Knight drive and give the Trojans the ball at their own 20.
Hillsboro couldn?t move the ball, but the ensuing punt by Chance Reece ended up on the Sacred Heart 3-yard line. Two plays later, Jerkovich fumbled the snap at the goal line. He recovered it but the Trojans buried him before he could clear the end zone.
The safety gave HHS a 14-0 lead with 5:25 left in the half.
The Trojans weren?t finished. They took the free kick from Sacred Heart and drove the ball from their own 47 into the end zone in 10 plays with Fish hitting Ben Bebermeyer in a crossing pattern for the final 24 yards with 1:19 to go. Frantz kicked the PAT for a 21-0 lead.
The Trojans needed that big lead because, in the third quarter, the momentum swung dramatically.
The Knights stuffed the Trojans in four plays on the opening possession, then drove 50 yards in six plays. Colby Wetter picked up 37 of those yards on four carries, but it was Zach Littell who ran the final two on a sweep of the right side for the Knights? first score.
The PAT pass failed and Hillsboro?s lead was 21-6.
Once again the Knights stopped HHS in four plays, and once again they scored on their next possession?this one an eight-play, 44-yard drive with Wetter running in from the 2.
Once again the 2-point conversion attempt failed, and the score stood at 21-12 with 1:11 left in the third quarter.
Hillsboro?s next possession transitioned into the fourth period, but it lasted only six plays before another punt by Reece. A block-in-the-back penalty on the kick return gave Sacred Heart the ball on its own 16-yard line.
That penalty seemed to be the the thumb that plugged the Trojans? leaking dam.
A penalty and two botched running plays pushed the Knights back to their 1-yard line.
Jerkovich then rolled to his right and threw down field?but Bebermeyer made a huge interception that gave HHS the ball at the Knights? 8-yard line with 9:06 left in the game.
Three plays later, Hilliard broke off left tackle for a nine-yard scoring run. Frantz nailed the extra point for a 28-12 lead at the 8:28 mark.
The Trojans all but sealed the victory when Chris Schafer killed a Knight drive by recovering a fumble by running back Drew Diederich at the Trojan 26 with 7:19 to play.
Hillsboro ran nearly four minutes off the clock on its next possession, then stopped Sacred Heart twice more as time ran out.Heinrichs said Sacred Heart came out a different team in the third quarter.
?I thought I?d slow the game down and just run the ball?but holy cow, they came out and hit us in the mouth,? he said. ?They did a great job of not giving up and coming back.
?What they did really well is spread us apart. Then the quarterback and that running back (had room to run).?
Wetter did most of the damage.
?(Wetter) has started for them for thee years and we were wondering when he was going to show up,? Heinrichs said. ?We had done a pretty good job of stuffing him.?
The Trojan coach credited defensive coordinator Dennis Boldt with making a couple of ?outstanding calls? to stop them the Knights at critical moments.
?It was something we hadn?t even really practiced,? Heinrichs said. ?We just made some calls at the right time?and it was a great team effort. Our team played well, so I?m pretty proud of our team.?
Hillsboro managed a 254-yard total offense, 136 through the air and 108 in the ground; Sacred Heart finished with 173 total yards, 137 passing and only 76 rushing.
?I like that we can do a lot of our offense already?-although it?s not polished yet,? Heinrichs said. ?We?ve got to polish it. It?s really not to the place that I want it.?
?Our offensive line was a pleasant surprise,? he added. ?Everybody thought we would be down because we lost a good amount of good players. But they did a great job.?
Coming?The Trojans (1-0) will play host to Smoky Valley this Friday. The Vikings pounded Haven, 52-18, last week, compiling their point total in the first three quarters.