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HHS 'D' key in tonight's game

By AUSTIN COLBERT

acolbert@dailynews.net

Last week, the Hays High School defense held Wichita South to 85 yards of total offense in a 31-6 win. If it weren't for an 80-yard touchdown pass by South in the fourth quarter, that number could have stayed in the single digits.

"It was a pretty good feeling because our defense hasn't been all that strong this season," Hays High junior linebacker Ethan Deterding said. "Having a good game like that kind of got us going a little bit. It made us feel better about how this defense is going to do."

The Indian offense produced only three points in the second half against South and used a lights-out defense to get the win.

It was the first time all season the defense had played such a complete game, and it was even better that it came off of a disappointing 35-0 loss to Garden City the week before.

"I thought they played better. It was a big area of concern last week," Hays High coach Ryan Cornelsen said. "I thought we showed improvement. This week is a new test because (Dodge City) is capable of throwing it all over -- every down if they have to."

Hays High (4-1) will play at Dodge City (3-2) at 7 tonight in a de facto WAC elimination game. The Indians have seen plenty of prolific offenses this season, including McPherson and Liberal, but none yet in a game that has so much riding on it.

The Indians are seeking their third consecutive WAC championship.

"It's always an important thing. We always have four goals that coach tells us," junior linebacker Brandon Hardwick said. "It's win one game at a time, win a WAC title, a district title, and the state title. It's nice to always win the WAC and try to keep it going."

The defense understands a lot will be riding on its shoulders against Dodge City. The Hays High offense is anything but 100 percent, with starting quarterback Alex Delton a game-time decision because of a torn groin. Junior Brenden Ibarra started in his place against South last week, and could do so again if Delton can't play. Sophomore Marcus Altman is also expected to see an increased workload with Delton out of the mix.

On top of that, senior running back Preston Weigel is still dealing with a turf toe injury, and senior fullback Ty Whittington is also a game-time decision as he heals after suffering a minor rib injury early against South.

With so many question marks on offense, it's important that Hays High doesn't get into a shootout with Dodge City.

"We are expecting to come out and attack every play," Hardwick said. "Just make great plays. They run about 50-50 on pass and run, so you have to keep attacking the cover well. Just try to keep the intensity we had against Wichita South."w