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Indians look to bounce back

By AUSTIN COLBERT

acolbert@dailynews.net

The word Hays High School football coach Ryan Cornelsen used most frequently to describe Friday's 35-0 loss to Garden City was "unacceptable."

The loss -- Hays High's first this season -- wasn't the shocking part. What bothered Cornelsen was how the Indians lost and this week was about making sure the players know it can't happen again.

"They need to step up and make sure we don't play at that level again and understand that's not acceptable," Cornelsen said. "Everything was lacking. We weren't prepared. We obviously didn't do a good job coaching. Just played poorly in every aspect."

Hays High (3-1) will try and regroup at 7 p.m. Friday at Wichita South High School (0-4). With a trip to WAC rival Dodge City coming the following week, it's important the Indians have a good showing in Wichita to prove they are still a factor in the conference race.

"We got knocked down. We got embarrassed," Cornelsen said. "We got to decide if we are going to get back up and fight and play better, or are we going to lie down? It's going to test our character this week to see what we are made of."

To make things worse, the Indians will have to pick themselves up without starting quarterback Alex Delton, who will miss Friday's game with a torn groin muscle. How many games the junior will miss is unknown. Delton has been dealing with a groin issue since initially hurting it in the season opener against Junction City.

Junior Brenden Ibarra will start in his place. Ibarra has spent most of the season playing in the defensive secondary. Sophomore Marcus Altman has been the No. 2 quarterback all season and should see plenty of action as well. Altman is still recovering from a bruised shoulder suffered two weeks ago at Liberal.

"Coaches do what they can with what they think is going to work. I trust that they are doing the right thing and both of us will do well," Ibarra said on the two-quarterback system. "It's going to be different without Alex in there."

Cornelsen doesn't plan to get too fancy with the offense. Ibarra will run the majority of their base run offense, and Altman will be used as the passing quarterback out of the spread. Neither player has started a varsity game at quarterback.

"It's pretty exciting," Altman said. "I'll try and not do too much. Just get the ball to my teammates and let them do the work."

Wichita South has struggled this season, the second under head coach Kevin Steiner. The closest game was a 23-6 loss at Wichita East last week.

The other three losses came against Wichita West, Wichita Heights and Wichita-Bishop Carroll by a combined score of 145-26.

Cornelsen's Indians have beat Wichita South each of his previous four years, including a 55-12 win last season in Hays.

But given last week's performance against Garden City, Cornelsen is finding plenty of reason to be cautious against the 6A program.

"They are as athletic in certain positions as anybody we will see. As a team they haven't had a lot of success, but they got some pretty good players," Cornelsen said.

"If we don't play any better than we did last week, we are going to be in trouble from here on out. We just have to focus on ourselves right now to make sure we are better."

Indians not worrying about impending move to Class 4A

What a difference a small handful of students can make.

It was announced this week that Hays High will move to the newly created Class 4A Division I next season. It's a football-only move, meaning the rest of the sports programs will continue to play in Class 5A.

The classifications are based on total enrollment of ninth, 10th and 11th graders from September. Hays High has 548 students, falling just short of the 554 required to play in Class 5A.

As it stands, Hays High will be the third largest Class 4A Division I school, behind only Andover Central (549 students) and Shawnee Mission-Bishop Miege (550 students).

How much of an impact being among the bigger Class 4A schools opposed to being the smallest Class 5A school will make is not known.

"I don't know if it's an advantage. It helps. You aren't going up against teams with 150 players; you are going up against teams with 75 or 80 players," Cornelsen said. "If you look at the number of kids we have out, it probably puts us at a little more of an equal playing field."

The district assignments will be announced in the coming weeks. Possible teams to fall in Hays High's district include McPherson, Buhler, Ulysses and Abilene. The classifications are only for two years at a time.

"We haven't really thought about it because it's next year," Cornelsen said. "After the season we will find out who our district is and who we will be playing. Until then, we are worried about this season."