Each week during the 2018 prep football season, The Hays Daily News will highlight five games of interest from the area. This week, matchups in Hill City and Plainville are highlighted.

Smith Center (2-1)

at Plainville (2-1)

Friday’s matchup has an eerily similar feeling to recent seasons for the two MCL foes. Each team has lost to Phillipsburg, and Friday’s game could be a preview of things to come in the Class 1A playoffs. Smith Center, the defending Class 2-1A state champion, is coming off a 42-14 loss at the hands of Phillipsburg. Two weeks ago, Plainville lost 31-0 to the Panthers.

Outside of Phillipsburg, however, Plainville is the only other team to beat Smith Center since the start of the 2015 season. That came when Plainville beat the Redmen twice en route to playing in the 2016 state title game, where it lost to Troy.

Last season, Smith Center beat Plainville twice on its way to the state title. If history repeats, this will be the first of two meetings between the two.

Like last season, Plainville is getting it done with a combination of quarterback Jordan Finnesy, utility man Jared Casey and a formidable defense. Finnesy has 348 passing yards and six touchdowns to two interceptions. Casey, who can play on the line or in the backfield, has all three Plainville rushing scores. They have come from 1, 4 and 26 yards. He also has 214 rushing yards through Plainville’s 2-1 start.

In its daunting rushing game, Smith Center has amassed 787 rushing yards and 12 scores on the ground through a 2-1 start. Colby Benoit leads the way with 27 carries for 232 yards, and Ethan Peterson addes 28 carries for 222 yards. At quarterback, the Redmen have split time between Rece Buckmaster and Trenton Colby. They have combined for 17 passing attempts. Last week, Colby threw the Redmen’s first passing TD against Phillipsburg.

Clifton-Clyde (3-0)

at Hill City (2-1)

Hill City’s 76-point outing in Week 1 might have taken everyone a little bit by surprise. What’s more of a surprise is that it resulted in a shootout loss by 12 points to Osborne, the No. 4 ranked team in Eight-Man Division II and a perennial power in the eight-man ranks. Hill City, though, rebounded with back-to-back wins against Trego Community and Thunder Ridge, teams with a combined 4-2 record after three weeks.

What’s more is Hill City’s offense hasn’t taken its foot off the gas. The Ringnecks, led by quarterback Conner Born, have averaged 59 points per game, and neither of their two wins have been within 30 points.

Friday’s Eight-Man Division I, District 7 opener gives Hill City a chance to back up that scoring and prove it belongs in the conversation among the best in the district. Clifton-Clyde, the No. 4 ranked team in Division I, brings a perfect record to Friday’s clash, averaging 56.6 points per game. However, the Eagles’ three wins have come against teams with a combined three wins.

Friday’s winner will have a leg up in a powerful district that also includes Victoria, and features five teams with at least two wins through the first three weeks.

Born leads Hill City with 652 rushing yards and 12 rushing scores. He also has completed 15 of 33 passes for 254 yards, five touchdowns and has yet to throw in interception. Dalen Journigan has been a solid two-punch with 247 rushing yards and 30 carries with four scores.

Colby (3-0) at Beloit (2-1)

Not much has changed for Colby in the past few years. The Eagles are off to a 3-0 start for the third straight year. However, after those starts the past two, Colby has faltered in the middle portion of its season, still made the playoffs, only to lose in the first round in Class 4A Division II.

However, this season, Colby’s 3-0 start has arguably come against much stiffer early-season competition. That included last week’s 38-34 win against defending 4A Division II state champion Holcomb.

Friday, the Eagles will open Class 3A, District 8 play at Beloit, a perennial 3A favorite. Jordan Schippers, a standout sprinter and running back since his freshman year for the Eagles, has made the switch to quarterback, providing an elusive threat out of the backfield. It’s helped lead to 43-20, 35-6 and 38-34 wins the first three weeks against Ulysses, Hugoton and Holcomb.

Wichita County (2-1)

at Hoxie (3-0).

The first of many upset-minded teams heads to Hoxie on Friday, hoping to knock back the defending Eight-Man Division I state champion Indians. Wichita County is in its third year of playing eight-man, though it has yet to make a playoff run. The visiting Indians went 5-4 in their first year, then finished 3-6 a year ago, but is off to a 3-0 start, outscoring its opponents 174-20 along the way.

Hoxie, the top-ranked team in Division I, has yet to be truly challenged. Hoxie wn 44-18 to start the season in Greeley County, then knocked off Osborne, 52-20, in Week 2. Last week, Hoxie rolled to a 54-0 victory in two quarters at Quinter.

The host Indians are getting big production from senior quarterback Jared Kennedy. The three-year starter has 255 passing yards and four scores to go along with 215 rushing yardsd and six scores. Wylie Weems, in his first year year as the full-time starting running back, has 382 rushing yards and eight scores. The Hoxie defense seems as powerful as ever with seniors Jarrod Dible, Colton Heskett and Taye Washington leading the way. Dible through three games already has 10 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. Senior Sam Bretz also has emerged on a powerful line, as he has collected five tackles for loss.

Hays High (1-2)

at Garden City (0-3)

It seems a bit odd to see Class 6A Garden City sitting 0-3. However, the Buffs’ winless start has come against a powerful early-season slate that includes Derby, the top-ranked team in Class 6A, Valley Center and Hutchinson.

Hays High will be seeking its first win against Garden City since 2014 when it collected a 42-28 win on the road. Garden City has won the last three contests, including a 7-3 defensive effort last year in Hays.

The Indians’ Palmer Hutchison sits second in the Western Athletic Conference in passing yards with 360 and has throw two touchdowns. He also is the WAC’s leading rusher, amassing 312 yards in three games. He leads the WAC with four rushing scores.

Keaton Markley, who made the game-winning PAT block last week in the Indians’ win against Liberal, leads the conference with 41 tackles.

Garden City, through its struggles, is at the bottom in terms of offense, just netting 693 yards through three games.The Buffs’ starting quarterback, Carlos Acosta, has been picked off four times.