Hays High School’s football team hasn’t had much success at home to start the 2015 season, but the Indians hope their fortunes improve with their first road game, a trip to Liberal on Friday.
Although the Indians bus to and from Lewis Field Stadium for their home games, head coach Randall Rath thinks the three-hour bus ride might do his team some good.
“It’s kinda a unique situation, but this is definitely a road game,” Rath said. “I think that maybe it will refresh us a little bit and may take a little bit of pressure off the kids.”
Playing in front of the home crowd might relieve some pressure, but heading into a new atmosphere with an inexperienced team will provide its own challenges.
After playing two teams that relied on spread principles, Liberal is expected to employ a power-run scheme not all that different from what the Indians want to do offensively. While Rath’s team has practiced against its own offense, it will be the first time seeing it in a game setting.
“We’re going to see a little bit of everything, and we haven’t seen that (type of offense) yet this year, so it’s going to be good for us,” Rath said.
The Indians will enter the game with an 0-2 record with both losses coming in Hays. Last week’s 40-29 loss to Great Bend featured a host of long scoring plays from the Indians’ offense. The team’s shortest touchdown was its last, a 26-yard pass hauled in by Keith Dryden in the final quarter. The coach would rather pick up a couple yards consistently as opposed to hitting big plays occasionally.
“We think we can break some runs if we do what we’re supposed to and get play action and throw over some people, but we need to sustain drives,” Rath said.
The coach added he’s seen improvement in his offensive line. The unit produced holes running back Hunter Brown turned into long touchdown runs with his ability to burst through the hole and cut upfield. A similar showing would help the Indians’ offense get moving against a Liberal team that allowed just six points the week before.
Liberal will look to improve on its 1-1 record after losing its opener to Ulysses and beating Guymon (Okla.) in Week 2.
For a young Hays High team under a new coach, making sure everyone on the field is on the same page looks to be key to better results.
“We’ve got to communicate better in all facets, offensively (and) defensively” Rath said. “The more we communicate, the more confident you are when you communicate with somebody and tell them you know what you’re doing.”
While most teams would rely on a group of experienced upperclassmen to speak with authority, Hays High has a freshman- and sophomore-heavy roster. Rath said he’d welcome any player to step into the role regardless of age.
A much different looking Hays High team beat Liberal 42-28 last season.