HOXIE — From the beginning of the week, Latham Schwarz had his mind on Friday night’s game.
After the game, the Ness City High School football team couldn't shake the memory of the Hoxie senior running back.
Schwarz carved his way through the Eagle defense all game long, leading the Indians to a 50-0 win in an Eight Man, Division I regional playoff contest in Hoxie.
“It’s great,” Schwarz said. “When it’s this big of a game, that’s all I think about all week — all my teammates think about. Everybody is stressing the whole week. At the beginning of the game, it’s almost a relief. Finally, you’re in the game and going.”
Schwarz had another dominating performance, scoring five touchdowns while carrying 24 times for 210 yards in a game that ended early due to the mercy rule.
“Most of it’s because of my linemen,” Schwarz said. “They are good. I probably have one of the best lines in the state. I can’t take all the credit.”
Hoxie’s massive offensive line was a big reason Schwarz had ample running room, but the senior also made some nifty moves of his own to break long runs. He had seven carries on 10 or more yards on the night, and even made a few moves on his final touchdown run that had Ness City coach Marc Cowles shaking his head.
“He made a cut on a run that just made me shake my head,” Cowles said. “It was a video-game cut, jump cut that only special kids can do. And he runs so hard.”
“I try,” Schwarz said. “I get yelled at because I try to run people over too much instead of doing some jukes. I try to throw a few in there every once in a while to make it better.”
Schwarz capped Hoxie’s first score — a 28-yard pass from junior quarterback Jared Kennedy to senior Taylor Burris — with a two-point conversion, one of four he had in the game.
That gave Hoxie (9-1) a 8-0 lead with 7:16 to play in the first quarter. It proved to be the beginning of a stellar night for Schwarz.
He scored on a 13-yard run before the end of the first quarter, then added a 17-yard scoring run in the second quarter to make it 22-0 at halftime.
“He’s a beast,” said Hoxie coach Lance Baar. “He runs hard. He’s not the most-fast kid, but he’ll put his head down and go as hard as he can every single play. That’s the type of kid he is. That’s the type a lot of these kids are, and that makes a good football team.”
Ness City (5-5) missed key chances early to make things interesting. Passes by junior quarterback John Pfannenstiel went off the fingertips of receivers — including one that would have resulted in a touchdown in the first quarter. Another was dropped in the endzone in the second quarter.
“We talked at halftime that we felt it very easily could have been 24-16 if we just connected on those,” Cowles said. “Defensively, they’re good. Statistically, they’re one of the top scoring defenses in the state. We knew it was going to be a challenge. You have to take those opportunities when you get them, and we just couldn’t find something that would work.”
The Eagles also suffered a blow on the second play of the game when senior back Brennan Chacon went down with a leg injury. He finished with two carries for six yards and didn’t return.
“He came into the game with 910 yards, and personally, I wanted to get him 90 yards,” Cowles said. “And obviously, we’re better with him. He’s a big, hard runner. It changed what we do quite a bit. I hate it more for him not to get the opportunity to play this last game.”
The Indians were held to only eight points in the third quarter, coming on a 6-yard run by Schwarz followed by his two-point conversion. That gave Hoxie a 30-0 advantage entering the final quarter.
Schwarz added two more scoring runs, followed by a 12-yard run by sophomore Wylie Weems to end the game early.
“Early in the game, we were kind of spreading them out because we knew they were going to pack it in if we went tight,“ Baar said. “We’ve done a lot of tight stuff throughout the season, and a lot of teams pack it in there. We have to be a little more dynamic, and we had some success with that stuff early. Then we came in and finished the game like that, and it worked out well for us.”
The Indians also got 64 yards rushing on six carries by senior 233-pounder Chris Cox late in the game, adding a bruising runner against a tired Eagle defense.
“They’re good, and they’re big where the need to be big and fast where they need to be fast,” Cowles said. “Lance is doing a great job, and he’s put a lot of work in. I hate to see him get the win against us, but I’m happy for him. I think a lot of him and appreciate what he’s doing and wish him the best.”
The win puts Hoxie in the sectional playoffs against Coldwater-South Central, which was a 27-20 winner over Little River in other regional action Friday.
“It was the goal to get the district championship, get this game and work our way down,” Baar said. “This is another check off our goals, but we’re still rolling and ready to roll next week.”