Indians ready to roll
Published on -10/18/2012, 12:07 PM
By KLINT SPILLER
The Hays High School football team has fashioned a pretty solid resume so far this season, but for the first time, its opponent might be better.
The Indians (6-1, 1-0 district), ranked No. 3 in Class 5A in the statewide media poll, will face Salina South (6-1, 1-0), ranked No. 2 in 5A, at 7 p.m. at Lewis Field Stadium.
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Salina South's schedule is one of the toughest in the state, rated No. 12 in Class 5A according to preppowerindex.com, and the Cougars have posted some substantial wins, especially their 35-10 pummeling of defending 5A state champion Hutchinson (5-2) -- now ranked No. 1 in 6A.
"You watch them on film, and they've played extremely well and have got a lot of talent," Hays High head coach Ryan Cornelsen said. "We've just got to make sure we are ready to go and ready to execute. There are some positions that are extremely big and cause some mismatches."
The Cougars could be without one of their best players, though.
Senior running back Cody Busby developed turf toe and missed the second half in last week's 23-20 overtime win against Salina Central.
Salina South coach Sam Sellers said Busby is questionable for Friday's game.
"We are keeping him off of it until warm ups Friday, and we'll see then whether he does it or not," Sellers said.
Busby is Salina South's career leader in rushing and leads the team with 870 yards and 13 touchdowns on 115 carries.
If Busby doesn't play, junior speedster Mike Jones likely will shoulder the bulk of the load.
Jones finished second at state in the 100-meter dash last year in 10.74 seconds and has been his team's second-leading rusher this season, running for 796 yards and six touchdowns on 91 carries.
"Mike is more of a slasher," Sellers said. "He is very, very fast. ... When he gets out in the open, it's trouble."
Sellers compared Busby to Hays High's leading rusher, senior David Cardinal.
"He's got a lot more power in his game and will set blocks up and hurt you that way," Sellers said.
With Busby out in the second half against Salina Central, Jones ran for 121 of his 133 yards after halftime.
"They are two different backs in one is real speedy and the other is big and powerful but still shifty," Cornelsen said. "They do the same thing with either one (schematically)."
Salina South has run the ball on 81.4 percent of its plays, and Cornelsen said this might be the most smashmouth running team the Indians have faced this season.
"We've seen mostly spread or balanced teams," he said. "We haven't seen any smashmouth, run-right-at-you teams. This will be a first for us. We knew all year this would be an issue the next two weeks, because we are going to give up a lot of size."
Salina South runs a pro-style offense similar to Hays High, but different in some ways.
"They've got some more counter concepts, and we try to do a little more speed-type stuff and misdirection," Cornelsen said. "They are less misdirection. They are either power, counter or some option stuff."
But when they need to, Salina South has shown the capability to throw it. Senior quarterback Justin Stonebraker has completed 35 of 73 passes for 539 yards, eight touchdowns and four interceptions.
Sellers said it will be a challenge to stop Hays High's diverse offense, comparing the Indians' offense to Hutchinson's balanced attack.
"The number of weapons they have to use and what they do with those weapons makes your defense have to play incredibly sound the entire game," Sellers said.
Getting a win against Salina South? Cornelsen said it would be hugely significant for his team.
"One, it gets you 2-0 in the district, and two, you beat somebody that is ranked and has won a lot of games," he said. "It's a team that looks to be one of the best in the state, so if you find a way to win, you feel good going into the next week."