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Expect more running from Hays High vs. McPherson

By AUSTIN COLBERT

acolbert@dailynews.net

It's an offensive system that is ground into the Hays High School's player's heads from an early age. It wasn't supposed to have been a key part of their season opener -- a 27-22 win over Junction City -- but when starting quarterback Alex Delton suffered a groin injury in the first half, those plans changed.

"The thing I was most proud of is we went back to our true, basic offense, what we always teach from their junior high experience until here," Hays High football coach Ryan Cornelsen said. "We just ran our base offense and found a way to move the ball. It wasn't anything tricky. Preston (Weigel) and our offensive line and Ty Whittington kept pounding away."

Two-time Western Athletic Conference player of the year David Cardinal carried the load for the Indians last year. With his graduation, Weigel gets most of the touches.

Friday's game against Junction City was Weigel's first game back after breaking his tibia during track season. He showed the injury is behind him after leading the team with 106 yards on 20 carries. The surprise was Whittington, who racked up 86 yards despite only getting 10 carries.

"I enjoyed it, definitely. I love getting the ball and running hard like that," Whittington said. "It wasn't the plan going into the game, but in football things change. You just have adapt to it and do what you can do. That's what I did."

When Hays High plays host to McPherson at 7 p.m. Friday at Lewis Field Stadium, Weigel and Whittington can be expected to see a heavy dose of the football whether Delton is a full go or not. Delton suffered some bruising in his groin and the coaching staff has been slow in getting him back to full speed in practice.

He likely will start Friday, but how close he is to 100 percent and how effective he will be as a runner won't be known until game time.

"We definitely need him but want to make sure he's ready to go," Cornelsen said. "He's a tough kid and wants to play and usually those kids find a way to play. But right now it's too early to tell."

Hays High (1-0) will certainly want Delton healthy against McPherson (1-0), a long-time football power in Class 5A that is entering its second season in Class 4A. The Bullpups were 10-2 last year, making it to the Class 4A state quarterfinals before a 31-27 loss to eventual state champion Holton.

McPherson had only one regular season loss, a 58-28 thumping in Week 2 against Hays High.

"Last year was one of those games where all things were clicking," Cornelsen said. "We were clicking on all cylinders and everything seemed to bounce our way. We were able to get up on them and keep the lead."

Don't expect the Indians to have it that easy again, as McPherson returns a lot of kids from its 10-2 team and has an offensive and defensive line that Cornelsen said is "as good as I've seen."

McPherson opened its season with a 27-13 win over El Dorado last week, needing a big second half after trailing 7-0 after two quarters. A balanced team, McPherson's main weapon is talented junior quarterback Kyler Kinnamon, a threat running and passing.

Kinnamon started as a sophomore, throwing for more than 2,100 yards with 20 touchdowns, although he did throw 15 interceptions. He also had 574 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.

He only had 98 yards on 6 of 14 passing in Week 1 against El Dorado, but ran for 184 yards on 16 carries.

It will be a big test for a defense that did a lot of bending last week against Junction City, although it made enough plays and caused enough turnovers to hold on for the win.

"There were a lot of errors, a lot of mistakes, a lot of things we can get better at, but I do think they gained some confidence that they can be a good defense," Cornelsen said. "We just have to make our corrections and get better each week."