By NICK McQUEEN
Each week during the 2018 prep football season, The Hays Daily News will highlight five games of interest from the area. This week is heavy on key eight-man contests in district play.
Victoria (3-1, 1-0)
at Clifton-Clyde (4-0, 1-0)
Clifton-Clyde flexed its muscle last week in a 64-14 road win against Hill City, and hasn’t had a game reach the full 48 minutes yet. The Eagles average 59 points per contest, and have yet to give up more than two touchdowns. However, the Eagles’ four opponents have just five wins combined through four weeks. The Eagles rank near the bottom in terms of strength of schedule in Eight-Man Division I, according to preppowerindex.com. The Eagles’ opponent, Victoria, is 3-1 against the toughest schedule, according to the same rankings. The Knights have put up 158 points, compared to opponents 70. Thirty-two of those points allowed were against Claflin-Central Plains. The Knights own wins against Otis-Bison (28-14), Mackvsille (70-24) and Lincoln (52-0). Those teams combine for a 7-5 mark.
The Knights have got it done with a plethora of backs, most notably quarterback Cooper Windholz, along with Jayvonn Pruitt, Tyler Knoles and Walker Braun.
Clifton-Clyde has many weapons as well with senior Drake Steinbrock leading the way with 426 rushing yards and seven rushing scores. Christian Seifert adds 274 yards and nine scores.
Hoxie (4-0, 1-0)
at St. Francis (4-0, 1-0).
Here we go again. Though there will be three weeks left after Friday night’s Eight-Man Division I, District 8 battle, it appears Hoxie and St. Francis’ result will go a long way in determining a district champion. Last season’s 16-8 win by St. Francis ended up being Hoxie’s only blemish in a state title season. Furthermore, the win by St. Francis ended up forcing a three-way tie in the district and ultimately kept one-loss Rawlins County out of the playoffs.
Hoxie, while it hasn’t been quite as dominant as its run in 2017, still touts a formidable defense. Hoxie is coming off a 36-20 win against Leoti-Wichita County, while St. Francis defeated Oberlin, 50-0, in its district opener, led by speedy running back Jordan Raby and returning starting quarterback Brady Dinkel.
Hoxie’s trio of backs have all been productive. Wylie Weems has nine rushing scores, while Jared Kennedy and Dylan Weimer have found the zone seven and four times, respectively. Kennedy also has proven productive through the air with 382 yards and five scores.
Wichita South (3-1) at Hays High (1-3)
Hays High is 1-3. But the Indians are two scores away from a potential 3-1 mark. That’s how close Hays High has been. Hays High has an eight-point loss to Great Bend and a seven-point loss to Garden City. Arguably, the Indians are on a hot streak after rallying from a 28-point deficit last week to have the loss at Garden City come down to the game’s final play.
Hays High quarterback Palmer Hutchison continues to be one of the top guys in the Western Athletic Conference. He has 583 passing yards with four touchdowns and leads the conference with 372 rushing yards and six scores. In addition, Hayden Brown is the second-leading rusher in the WAC with 283 yards.
The visiting Titans spread the ball around to a bevy of ball carriers, most notably Antwain Scales, who has 292 rushing yards and six scores.
Wichita County (3-1, 0-1) at Trego (3-1, 1-0)
While it might appear Hoxie and St. Francis have a stranglehold on Eight-Man Division I, District 8, Trego is sitting 1-0 after defeating Rawlins County and Wichita County was unbeaten until playing to within 16 points of Hoxie a week ago. On paper, Wichita County and Trego seem to be the third and fourth best teams in the district and could end up in the playoffs, but a win Friday for either one could further cement that likelihood.
Trego has proven this season it will air out the ball a little bit with Kobi and Keagan Shubert combining for 11 passing touchdowns and 636 yards through the air. When Trego does run the ball, it’s all Dallas Schneider. The senior has 71 of Trego’s 133 carries, and has amassed 522 yards and six scores. A favorite target in the aerial attack, Dillon Dunn has 15 catches for 228 yards and three scores. Hunter Price also has 10 catches for 158 yards and a score. Trego’s lone loss came at the hands of Hill City in Week 2, 48-18. It was the only time the Golden Eagles were under 52 points this season. Wichita County was rolling up until last week’s 36-20 loss to defending state champion Hoxie.
Sylvan-Lucas (2-2, 0-1) at Thunder Ridge (3-1, 1-0)
Coming off what some would call an upset of previously unbeaten Northern Valley, it would appear Thunder Ridge has played itself back into the fold. A win Friday against visiting Sylvan-Lucas would put the Longhorns, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2013, likely in second place behind Osborne in Eight-Man Division II, District 5.
Standing in the Longhorns’ way is Sylvan-Lucas, which at times has shown it can put up big points, but has been up and down. The Mustangs own wins against Lincoln and Chase, but were blown out by both Stockton and Osborne.
Thunder Ridge, meanwhile, has been steady, aside from a 53-6 blowout loss at the hands of Hill City. The Longhorns own a 68-0 win against Lakeside, a 12-0 win against Washington County, and last week outlasted Northern Valley 24-14, handing the Huskies their first loss.
Senior Brandon Grauerholz leads Thunder Ridge’s offense with 309 rushing yards and five scores, while Colton Davis has 31 carries for 272 yards and three scores.