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SPOTLIGHT
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Hays High begins season at Junction City

Published on -8/30/2012, 10:51 AM

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By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

Hays High School football coach Ryan Cornelsen said he made it clear to his team that when the Indians head to Junction City, the Blue Jays are not going to be intimidated by them.

Junction City, a Class 6A school that went 6-3 last season, plays schools with enrollments more than twice as large as Hays High.

Junction City, which had an enrollment of 1,753 in 2011, won the Class 6A state championship just four years ago.

In the past, Hays High has played Class 4A schools Concordia and Chapman in its season opener. Junction City is a bit of a step up from those two teams.

"They are not going to be intimidated by Hays High," Cornelsen said. "They play much larger schools than us with Manhattan and the Topeka schools. We are going to have to go out there and earn every yard."

The Blue Jays are in a similar position as Hays High this season, returning just three starters on offense and one on the offensive line.

However, the starters they do have returning were in important positions.

Senior quarterback Cody Devin, senior running back Jovan Toles and 6-foot-4, 270-pound junior lineman Jeffrey Clark are all back.

Though Clark is the Blue Jays' lone returning offensive linemen, Cornelsen said he saw video of their scrimmage, and their new starters also are big.

"They've got some really good skill guys, and they are really big up front offensively and defensively," Cornelsen said.

Junction City returns seven starters on defense, which allowed just 16.9 points per game last season and held teams to fewer than 14 points five times last season.

"They've got a lot returning off a really good defensive team," Cornelsen said. "It will be a challenge for us offensively."

However, Cornelsen said his team is ready.

The Indians have been more physical and intense this preseason than in seasons past, but Cornelsen said it's difficult to be fully prepared for Friday nights by just playing the scout team.

"We are going to have to catch up to the speed of the game as fast as we can," he said.

The Indians play at 7 p.m. Friday at Junction City.

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