Hillsboro played toe-to-toe with Hesston for one half, but the constant wearing down by a bigger team and deeper roster led to the undoing of the Trojans in a 41-6 loss during the first round of district play Friday at Joel Wiens Stadium.
Hillsboro was the first team to score, aided by Darian Ratzlaff’s interception of a Cameron Cox pass to give the Trojans a first down at the Hillsboro 44-yard line.
Four plays later, Ratzlaff—who stepped in at quarterback after the injury to Kaden Kleiner—threw to Jacob Funk for a 46-yard touchdown at the 7:07 mark of the first quarter. Wes Shaw’s kick missed the mark, but Hillsboro led 6-0.
Not for long, however.
On the first play from scrimmage following the kickoff, Swather standout running back Parker Ross appeared to be bottled up for a short gain, but suddenly escaped the scrum and raced for an 80-yard score.
Brooks Gardner blocked Jorge Morales’ extra-point kick to keep the game tied at 6-6.
Hesston didn’t score again until Ross capped a 13-play, 78-yard drive with a 13-yard touchdown run on third-and-three. This time, Morales’ kick split the uprights for a 13-6 Swather lead.
The score remained there as the first-half ended. But the Trojans did suffer a key a loss when Gardner, the team’s leading running back and co-quarterback, was shaken up shortly before halftime and did not return to action.
After Hesston received the second-half kickoff, the Swathers rolled 75 yards in eight plays with Ross scoring from 2 yards out at the 9:50 mark of the third quarter.
The Swathers forced a Trojan turnover on downs at the 6:46 mark with the football at the Hillsboro 31-yard line. Cox then bedazzled the Trojan defense as he raced 69 yards for a touchdown on the next play. Morales’ kick made it 27-6.
Hesston added two more touchdowns in the final quarter. The first came on a 44-yard breakaway run by Ross at the 10:30 mark, and the second with 53 seconds left when Cox swept the right end for a 5-yard score to cap a 15-play, 75-yard drive that consumed 8:04 of the quarter.
Coach Devin Metzinger acknowledge that his team faces a difficult challenge.
“It’s difficult when you have the same guys going and everything,” he said. “We’re in district play, where you can get new life.
“We’ve got to figure out how to play a full 48 minutes, we have to figure out how to come out of halftime with the same intensity we had in the first half—and keep it going.”
Coming—The Trojans will bring a 1-6 record back to Joel Wiens Stadium this Friday when Marion (6-1) comes to town for Round 2 of district play.
The Warriors are coming off a 64-36 win over Southeast of Saline in last Friday’s other district matchup in Class 3A District 12.