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SPOTLIGHT
Hays High hosts Dodge City on Friday

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Hays High hosts Dodge City on Friday

Published on -10/4/2012, 10:26 AM

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By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

Last season, the Hays High School football team entered Memorial Stadium in Dodge City and crushed the Dodge City Red Demons 56-14.

Hays High blew the doors open on the game and was able to sub out the majority of its lineup by halftime.

However, Hays High coach Ryan Cornelsen will be the first to remind people: The Indians got pretty fortunate in that game, including two onside kicks that went Hays High's way and helped turn the momentum in the Indians' favor.

Like last season, Dodge City comes into the game against Hays High with a 3-2 record, 1-1 in the Western Athletic Conference, but this year, the game will be on the Indians' turf on Friday at Lewis Field Stadium.

Hays High is 4-1 and 2-0 in the WAC and ranked No. 5 in Class 5A in the statewide media poll. Game time is 7 p.m.

"They are definitely better than they were, but everything seemed to fall into place last year with the onside kick," Cornelsen said. "... We know this is definitely going to be a true test and definitely one of the best teams we've played and a different style of team we've played."

Senior defensive back/wide receiver Jake Sedbrook said he expects Dodge City to seek vengeance for last season's crushing loss.

"I think they will have a little bit of a bad taste in their mouth from last year," Sedbrook said, "but we'll also think, 'Hey, we did this last year. We can come back and do it again, maybe.'"

Dodge City brings a potent passing attack to town.

The Red Demons have thrown for 1,253 of their 1,757 yards this season.

Dodge City junior Kelan Newton, 6-foot-5 and 185 pounds, has breathed life into his team's offense, completing a league-high 61.9 percent of his passes for 1,179 yards and an 11-to-3, touchdown-to-interception ratio.

Last season, Newton served as the backup quarterback to Taylor Murphy, who now plays wide receiver, and Newton actually got his most significant minutes in the blowout loss to Hays High. As a sophomore against the Indians, Newton completed 12 of 21 passes for 173 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

"He's a kid that even if he scrambles, he's looking to throw it down the field," Cornelsen said. "He likes to throw the vertical ball. He'll throw a lot of quick screens to set it up, but there's no doubt he's got a real strong arm. He's one of the few kids in the league who can throw a 20-yard comeback route and throw it with some whip behind it."

The Red Demons also feature senior running back Parker Davis, an Air Force commit. Davis has been one of Dodge City's top offensive options for the past two seasons, but his production has dipped slightly in 2012.

From 2010 to 2011, Davis, 6-feet tall and 205 pounds, rushed for 35 rushing touchdowns and ran for 1,002 yards on 165 carries last season, but this season, he's rushed for just 316 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 5.2 yards per carry. However, a large reason for that was because he didn't play against Liberal in Week 4.

Dodge City also has a strong receiving corps.

Senior Dakota Duckett leads the group with 29 receptions for 462 yards and five touchdowns, while Murphy, a senior, has 19 catches for 332 yards and three touchdowns. Senior wide receiver Jordan Doan has 11 receptions for 144 yards and three touchdowns.

"It's definitely going to be a challenge," Sedbrook said. "Our coaches have challenged us this week to try and shut their pass down."

Dodge City's defense has struggled at times this season, yielding 48 points to Liberal and 39 points to Wichita Heights, but has put up solid performances in its other three games, allowing 44 points combined.

The Red Demons are second-to-last in the league in yardage allowed (2,083) and right in the middle in points allowed (131) -- seven points better than Hays High.

"Defensively, man, they are going to come after us," Cornelsen said.

The two teams are in opposite positions in the momentum department.

Dodge City is coming off a 24-7 loss to Great Bend, while Hays High is riding a four-game win streak, including a 55-12 homecoming win against Wichita South last week.

However, Cornelsen said his team isn't satisfied.

"We take it one game at a time. It's nice to get some wins under our belt, but there's still lots of improvement each week," Cornelsen said. "There's lots of mistakes we make that if we are going to beat good teams down the stretch, we are going to have to make those corrections."

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