Hays High picks up win in Wichita
By AUSTIN COLBERT
WICHITA -- Call it a rough patch.
The Hays High School football team defeated winless Wichita South 31-6 on Friday at Carpenter Stadium in Wichita, bouncing back from a 35-0 loss to Garden City last week.
It wasn't pretty for either team. The opening kickoff didn't take place until well after 9 p.m. because of lightning delays and a lackadaisical second half by the Indian offense left the team wanting more.
"We didn't play very well. That's two weeks in a row I don't think we played very well," Hays High football coach Ryan Cornelsen said. "We didn't execute very well and we don't look to be a real dominating team at this point."
Hays High (4-1) scored 28 of its 31 points in the first half, capitalizing on great field position. Senior running back Preston Weigel ran for 107 on 23 yards and had three touchdown runs.
Other than one long touchdown pass, the defense was stellar, allowing only 85 total yards to Wichita South (0-5) and holding the Titans to minus-18 yards rushing.
But an ineffective second half moving the football left a sour taste on the tongues of the Indian players.
"Our defense stepped up this week. It was good," said junior quarterback Brenden Ibarra, who started in place of Alex Delton, who missed the game with a torn groin. "But our offense lacked. We weren't moving the ball during the second half. It wasn't all good."
As slow as the finish was for Hays High, the start was as good as it could have hoped for. The Indian defense held South to 0 yards on seven plays on its opening drive, forcing a punt that gave Hays High the football at its own 46-yard line.
Hays High then went nine plays -- all runs -- and took a 7-0 lead after a 25-yard touchdown run by Weigel.
South went nowhere again on its next drive and was going to punt when the snap went over punter Garet Fowler's head and into the end zone. Fowler found the ball and avoided the safety, but was still tackled for a 3-yard loss giving Hays High possession at the South 17-yard line.
Four run plays later and Weigel was in the end zone again, this time from 2 yards out, to give Hays High a 14-0 lead late in the first quarter.
"That helped a lot, obviously," Ibarra said of the short fields. "It's good to have the ball placed up close to the end zone and be able to put it in."
A short punt by South on the next possession gave the ball back to Hays High at the South 33-yard line. Weigel would find the end zone for a third time, ending the drive with an 8-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter.
The Indians' lead reached 28-0 before halftime when fullback Connor Rule -- who was replacing Ty Whittington after he left the game due to an injury -- found the end zone with a 1-yard run.
The second half was dismal at best for the Hays High offense. The only Indian points came early in the fourth quarter on a 38-yard field goal by senior Lane Clark that was set up by a long interception return by Rule moments before.
Hays High's shutout bid ended on the first play of the next drive, when South quarterback Dominic Webb found running back Kyle Wilson wide open about 10 yards out. Wilson did the rest to complete the 80-yard touchdown pass.
A blocked extra point made it 31-6, which is where the score would stay.
Hays High finished with 241 yards of total offense, most coming in the first half. Seven penalties for 69 yards and a lost fumble were among the inconsistencies.
"A win was important tonight and we got that, so that's good," Cornelsen said. "I thought our quarterbacks stepped in there and did a nice job. We got to figure out what we can do offensively and start getting after it."
Ibarra was 3 for 7 passing for 54 yards. Sophomore Marcus Altman also took snaps at quarterback, attempting only two passes.
Hays High will jump back into WAC play next week with a trip to Dodge City (3-2), which is coming off a 47-13 win over Great Bend.