HHS football faces Wichita South for Homecoming
Published on -9/27/2012, 10:31 AM
By KLINT SPILLER
Wichita South might not have a win this season and Hays High School has never had a problem dispatching South in the past, but Hays High head coach Ryan Cornelsen assured that doesn't mean his team will overlook the downtrodden Titans.
Hays High, coming off a significant 29-21 win at Garden City, will face Wichita South (0-4) in the Indians' homecoming game at 7 p.m. Friday at Lewis Field Stadium.
"Any time you go from conference play to non-conference play in the middle, there's always a chance of a letdown, but we've always told our kids we aren't concerned with who we play," Cornelsen said. "We aren't concerned with how good or how bad or what their record is.
"We are only concerned with how we play," he added. "If we focus on us and make sure we play well, you don't have letdowns and you'll play well every week."
Wichita South returned more than 20 seniors and 16 starters from last season's 4-6 squad that made the Class 6A state playoffs for the second time in the past three seasons.
South's quarterback/tight end, senior Kaale McCulloch, leads the Titans. McCulloch is 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds and brings a wide skill set to South's sideline.
"Anytime you play South, they are always going to have really good athletes," Cornelsen said.
"They are always capable of making big plays, because they are so athletic. If you're not ready to play, they can gash you in a hurry."
However, Wichita South has really struggled this season, losing to four Wichita City League schools (Wichita West, Wichita Heights, Bishop Carroll and Wichita East) by a combined margin of 163-40.
"They just haven't put a full game together yet," Cornelsen said. "We just have to make sure we come out from the first whistle and get after it.
"The last thing you want to do is give them confidence."
Meanwhile, the Indians (3-1) are riding a swell of momentum, winning their past three games.
Hays High's fourth-quarter winning touchdown drive against Garden City has put the Indians in the pole position to win the WAC championship.
"I thought we played hard," Cornelsen said. "It was a good step from the Junction City game when it was close and we didn't win. That's a big step up in just finding ways to win games. We had a lot of mistakes that if we correct, we'll get a lot better fast. I was happy with our effort, and I was happy to find a way to win."
There was a momentary scare against Garden City when all-WAC center and defensive tackle Cade Sharp went down with a shoulder injury, but Cornelsen said Sharp only suffered shoulder soreness and will be ready to go Friday.
However, there's a good chance starting quick tackle Hunter Gonzales will not play.
Gonzales rolled his ankle and could need some time to recover. If he doesn't play, sophomores Brady Werth and Trenton Henningsen could see time on the line.
Starting cornerback Derek Bixenman also rolled his ankle, but he's probable for Friday's game.
Though it is the Indians' homecoming game, Cornelsen said he wasn't sure if it added any extra motivation for his team to get a win.
"Sometimes you look at it as a distraction, and sometimes you look at it as a motivation," he said. "For our kids, we have always been good at focusing on the game at hand. Homecoming is fun for the fans and student body, but for us, it's another game on our schedule that we need to perform well at."