TMP seeks playoff berth
Published on -10/24/2012, 11:28 AM
By KLINT SPILLER
Thomas More Prep-Marian football coach John Montgomery doesn't consider his team the underdog heading into Thursday's matchup with Hoisington at Lewis Field Stadium.
The game will decide who is the MCAA champion and who will get to keep playing past this week. Game time is 7 p.m.
"There's a lot to play for this week," Montgomery said.
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The Monarchs (2-6, 1-1 district) head into the game with a 36-26 victory against Russell two weeks before but were blasted 58-0 Friday at Scott City. Hoisington (4-4, 1-1) has the same victory and loss but by more impressive margins, defeating Russell 42-12 and losing to Scott City 36-0.
TMP and Hoisington have played six common opponents, and in those games, Hoisington is 3-3, outscoring those opponents 174-123. Meanwhile, TMP is 2-4 and has been outscored 244-93 in those six games.
"When you look at Hoisington's losses, they are some of the same losses that we've had," Montgomery said. "At times, they've probably played better in some of those losses than we have, but nevertheless, they are still losses."
Hoisington operates a run-heavy system similar to past seasons. Last year's starting running back, Hagan Hanzlick was moved to quarterback, and the Cardinals have used him as their primary running option.
Hanzlick has carried the ball 127 times for 937 yards and 11 touchdowns, averaging 7.4 yards per carry.
As a passer, Hanzlick has struggled, completing 28 of 70 attempts for 412 yards. He's also thrown five touchdowns versus eight interceptions.
"He takes the snap and pretty much runs with two running backs leading for him a lot," Montgomery said. "He is a running back playing quarterback right now."
However, Hanzlick didn't play against Russell last week. Montgomery said he believed that was simply to rest him. Hanzlick still played in the game, participating as Hoisington's punter.
Between run and pass, he has been Hoisington's workhorse, running or passing with Hanzlick on 46.6 percent of the offense's plays -- even without playing against Russell.
"He'll be playing against us," Montgomery said. "I have no doubt."
TMP still will be without several starters, including junior tackles Adam Schibi (elbow) and Aaron Moore (neck) and junior wide receiver Ryan Mayorga (knee). Montgomery said junior fullback Jared Gabel (ankle) is questionable for Thursday's game.
"It's one of those things you can't control, and you look at how we've been able to battle and the adversity as a team," Montgomery said. "We've had guys step up and take over roles that maybe they aren't accustomed to. ... We've still been able to have some success and do some good things."
Montgomery said he's been happy with the way his team practiced early in the week and his players don't need much motivation to be ready for Thursday.
If TMP wins, it will enter the playoffs as the second team out of Class 3A, District 15. With a win, TMP also would share the MCAA championship with Hoisington and Larned.
If Hoisington wins, it will take the second spot out of district and will be crowned the sole champion of the MCAA.
"Week to week, each game is the most important game," Montgomery said. "This week, it is Senior Night, and it's 'Win, you get to keep playing' or 'Lose and your season is over.' I have no doubt the guys -- if they can find more to give, they are going to try to give it."