Indians can't match Salina South
Published on -10/21/2012, 8:32 PM
By NICK McQUEEN
There wasn't too much sugar coating taking place on the Hays High School sidelines following Friday's game at Lewis Field Stadium.
Just the admission the Indians flat out got beat on their home turf in what turned out to be a Class 5A, District 7 title-clinching win for visiting Salina South.
"They dominated us in every aspect of the game," Indian coach Ryan Cornelsen said following his club's 35-6 drubbing at the hands of the Cougars. "That's coaching. When one player makes a mistake, it's usually the player, but when a team plays bad it's on me.
"We have to have a better plan, and we have to be able to execute our plan better."
Coupled with Salina Central's 20-13 win against Great Bend on Friday, Salina South, ranked No. 2 in 5A in the statewide media poll, clinched the district crown and a 5A playoff berth. The Hays High loss sets up a win-and-in situation for the Indians and Salina Central in Friday's regular-season finale in Salina.
"I'm proud of our team," Salina South coach Sam Sellers said. "We challenged them this week. Last week was a crazy week because of a lot of different factors."
There were several factors affecting the Cougars, namely an injury to one of their best players. Coming off an emotional overtime win against their in-town rival the week prior, South (7-1) was playing without starting tailback Cody Busby, the Cougars' career rushing leader.
Backup junior Mike Jones, though, got it done for the Cougars -- that and a dominating performance on both the offensive and defensive lines.
"They played harder than we did," Cornelsen said. "I thought I had a good plan, and we tried to execute and it wasn't there. That's on me."
Outside of Hays High taking a 6-0 lead on its opening drive, the Indians had little to nothing offensively the rest of the way. A 45-yard pass from sophomore Alex Delton to senior Emilio Mitchell set up a 2-yard run for Delton.
After that drive, Hays High, a team that had averaged 45.6 points per game with six straight wins, managed just three first downs the rest of the way.
"Their defense just played lights out," Hays High senior Adam Deterding said. "They came out fired up, and it showed tonight."
Meanwhile, Jones and Salina South controlled the game. Jones rushed for 135 yards on 27 carries before leaving in the third quarter with a concussion on a play where he set up the Cougars' fourth TD for a 28-6 lead.
"Some people may have started to count us out, so the kids wanted to make a statement and wanted to play well," Sellers said.
Hays High managed just 139 yards with senior David Cardinal rushing for only 23 on eight carries. Junior Preston Weigel had 30 yards on 10 carries, while Delton completed 4 of 11 passes for 81 yards, but had three interceptions. His first pick turned into points for the Cougars in the second quarter and a 14-6 lead.
"He was doing what I told him to do," Cornelsen said of Delton. "The guys I told him would be open weren't and that happens. It wasn't anything he did wrong, it was just more the plan I put together didn't work."
The Cougars led 21-6 at halftime as South junior quarterback Justin Stonebraker dove in from a yard out as time expired. The Indians ran just five plays in the third quarter, one of which was Delton's second interception.
South meanwhile took the 28-6 lead on a 1-yard run by senior Mike Shirk following the Jones injury. After the TD, both Salina South junior Avery Mitchell and the Indians' Emilio Mitchell were ejected for an altercation.
The Cougars capped the scoring with Shirk's second 1-yard run midway through the fourth quarter.
The Cougars racked up 243 yards on the ground and had 16 first downs, compared to Hays High's five.
"We're not going to make excuses for what happened," Cornelsen said. "We just got spanked. That's on us as a team. We'll work hard to make sure we have a better plan and better execution next week."