Indians pull away for blowout win
By AUSTIN COLBERT
Great Bend found out the hard way what happens when you awaken a sleeping Indian.
The Hays High School football team came alive in a thorough 47-14 win over Great Bend to open Class 5A, District 7 play on Friday at Lewis Field Stadium. It was Hays High's most complete game of the season.
"We were thinking last week was going to be the game where we put it together," Hays High junior Hayden Kreutzer said. "And we did do a lot better last week, but looking at film we just weren't hustling. This game we came out ready to play and were ready to win this."
Friday also marked the return of junior quarterback Alex Delton, who missed the previous two games because of a groin injury. Delton was 3 of 6 passing for 58 yards and ran for 75 yards on 22 carries with four total touchdowns.
"It's just the best feeling in the world to finally be back out there," Delton said. "I couldn't be more proud of my coaches and teammates. I feel like tonight was a huge step."
The most improved aspect of Hays High's game on Friday was its defense, which has struggled most of the season, including in last week's 35-28 win over Dodge City. But against Great Bend (4-3), it was dominance on both sides of the ball for the Indians.
Hays High (6-1) had 23 first downs to six for Great Bend, outgained the Panthers 412 to 217 in total yards and ran twice as many offensive plays. The bulk of the Indians' success came on the ground, where they rushed for 354 yards on 65 carries, 196 of those yards from senior Preston Weigel. Hays High did not attempt a pass in the second half.
"The plan wasn't to run the ball every down, but when you are getting yards there is no reason to try and outcoach yourself," Hays High coach Ryan Cornelsen said. "Just take what they are giving you and take what's working and march right down the field."
The two teams played a scoreless first quarter, with Great Bend recording only 13 yards and no first downs in three possessions. Hays High moved the ball well, but had both its first quarter possessions end without points.
Then came 16 points in 86 seconds for the Indians.
Hays High finished its third drive of the game when Delton found senior wide receiver Lane Clark for a 24-yard touchdown pass. On the ensuing kickoff, the Great Bend returner had the kick ricochet off his body and roll out of bounds at the Panthers' 2-yard line.
On the first play of the drive, Kreutzer busted through the line and tackled the Great Bend ball carrier in the end zone for a safety to make it 9-0 Hays High. Junior Adam Klaus returned the following free kick all the way to the Great Bend 22-yard line, and three plays later Weigel found the end zone from 6 yards out.
"That's a big shout out to our defense, because they are the ones holding them," Delton said. "That's not a bad offense by any means. They were just holding them the whole time. Made the offensive job very easy."
The bulk of Great Bend's yards came on one play midway through the second quarter, a 72-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Bryce Beck to senior running back Jonathan Allende. A successful 2-point conversion made it 16-8.
Hays High answered with a 29-yard Clark field goal, and followed with a 9 yard Weigel touchdown run on the next possession to take a 26-8 lead late in the half.
Great Bend put together a good drive and scored with 16 seconds to play in the second quarter, a 6-yard Beck touchdown pass to junior receiver Justin McGinnes.
Hays High led 26-14 at halftime.
Delton added three rushing touchdowns in the second half from 24, 7 and 1 yards. The Indian defense had little resistance in the final two quarters, holding Great Bend to only three first downs and no points.
"You don't win district games unless you have a good defense," Hays High senior Ty Whittington said. "Going into districts with a big win like that, starting off 1-0 is great. I feel like the whole team played from the heart and we wanted this one so bad."
The win also wrapped up WAC play for Hays High, where it finished 3-1 and will have a chance for a conference crown for a third year in a row. Garden City will have to lose to Dodge City in two weeks for the Indians to win the WAC.
Most importantly, the win puts Hays High in position to make the state playoffs for a school best third year in a row. One more district win over the final two weeks will be enough to get them in.
The Indians travel to Salina South (5-2) next week for their second district game. Salina South is coming off a 55-27 win over Salina Central and was ranked No. 1 in Class 5A earlier this season.
"There is no better time than the first week of districts, and I felt like we came together as a team and played really well in all phases of the game," Cornelsen said. "That's the way we should play every week. We just haven't got there until tonight."
Hays High 47
Great Bend 14
Game in figures
Hays Great Bend
First Downs 23 6
Rushes-Yds 65-354 23-95
Passing-Int 3-6-0 6-12-1
Passing Yds 58 122
Total Yds 71-412 35-217
Penalties-Yds 3-35 6-55
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 5-2
Punts 1-43 6-37.8
Great Bend (4-3) 0 14 0 0 -- 14
Hays High (6-1) 0 26 14 7 -- 47
H -- Clark 24 pass from Delton (Clark kick)
H -- Safety
H -- Weigel 6 run (Clark kick)
G -- Allende 72 pass from Beck (Beck run)
H -- Clark 29 field goal
H -- Weigel 9 run (Clark kick)
G -- McGinnes 6 pass from Beck (conversion failed)
H -- Delton 24 run (Clark kick)
H -- Delton 7 run (Clark kick)
H -- Delton 1 run (Clark kick)
G -- Beck 4-42, Allende 14-40, Elliott 2-12, McGinnes 1-3, Sateren 1-0, Yager 1-(-2)
H -- Weigel 32-196, Delton 22-75, Klaus 6-62, Whittington 4-19, Kreutzer 1-2
G -- Beck 6-12-2, 122 yards
H -- Delton 3-6-1, 58 yards
G -- Allende 2-92, Burley 3-24, McGinnes 1-6
H -- Clark 2-34, Klaus 1-24