The Hillsboro High School Trojans football team struggled on both sides of the ball Friday at Smoky Valley en route to a 48-12 loss.
The Trojans began the game moving the ball, driving 58 yards on their opening possession before an option pitch came up short on fourth-and-2 at the Smoky Valley 18.
Hillsboro then forced a punt on the Vikings’ first drive after Jakob Hanschu broke up a pass on third-and-3. The Vikings downed the punt at Hillsboro’s 2-yard line, but the Trojans moved the ball out of the shadow of their own goalposts before turning the ball over on a fumble.
Smoky Valley capitalized on the short field, scoring on a 5-yard run by Matt Guerrero to take a 7-0 lead. The Trojans had a short punt on their next possession, and Smoky Valley scored another touchdown with a short field to lead 14-0.
The Trojans came out swinging on the next drive. Jesse Brown threw a 68-yard pass, which would have been a touchdown if not for a shoestring tackle, to Evan Ollenburger on the first play of the drive. On the next play, Brown threw a 12-yard pass to Justus Hilliard on a corner route to the right corner of the endzone. The touchdown cut the deficit to 14-6.
Jordan Faul recovered a fumble on the first play of Smoky Valley’s next possession, but the Trojans turned the ball over on downs after a fourth-down sack when the Vikings perfectly timed Hillsboro’s snap count. The Vikings scored another rushing touchdown to lead 20-6.
The Trojans converted a fourth-down try on their next possession with a reverse to Hilliard, but the drive ended with a fumble. On Smoky Valley’s next possession, Faul snagged an interception, but Hillsboro’s drive came up short on fourth down.
The Vikings added two more touchdowns before halftime to lead 34-6. Another Smoky Valley touchdown to begin the third quarter resulted in a running clock for the rest of the game, in accordance with Central Kansas League rules.
The Vikings extended the lead to 48-6 in the third quarter. With 6:54 left in the game, Brown scrambled to his right and back to his left before taking off for a 59-yard touchdown run to make the final score 48-12 in favor of the Vikings.
Several times throughout the game, Brown had a receiver open behind the defense along the sideline, but each time he overthrew the receiver. Head coach Lance Sawyer took the blame for those miscues, saying he shouldn’t have called for routes that the team doesn’t practice regularly.
Sawyer gave credit to Smoky Valley for playing a good, physical game.
“That is a team that hits,” he said. “All 11 like to tackle.”
Sawyer said the team’s season could go up or down from this point, depending on players’ leadership. He thinks there is the leadership on the team to continue to fight.
The Trojans travel Friday to Whitewater for a game against Remington. District play begins the next week against Moundridge at home.