Junction City had a matchup advantage with its wide receivers. The Blue Jays capitalized on it.
In a game filled with big plays, Junction City made more of them to take a 48-30 win over Hays High in Friday night’s season opener at Lewis Field Stadium.
“We’ve got some good receivers,” Junction City coach Randall Zimmerman said. “We need to be able to throw the ball. We felt like with our size at receiver and our speed out there, if we could get a little bit of separation ... our strength is our quarterback throwing the ball.”
Junior quarterback Andrew Khoury, in his first year as the starter, threw for 245 yards and three touchdowns as the Blue Jays found plenty of open space in the Indian secondary. To avoid the Hays High pass rush, Khoury utilized sprint outs and quick hitters to his two lanky senior wideouts, 6-2 Qua’Vez Humphreys and 6-1 Ethan Alcorn. Humphreys finished with five catches for 140 yards and two scores, and Alcorn caught four balls for 85 yards and a TD.
“The two outside guys, they were kind of men against boys,” Hays High coach Tony Crough said. “We started a freshman at corner because of injury. Those are some really good receivers out there.”
Hays High did stop Junction City at the 1-yard line on the final play of the first half to keep it 20-7 heading into the locker room.
“I told the kids we gave them all the confidence they were looking for,” Zimmerman said.
The Indians scored first in the second half on an 88-yard punt return by sophomore Jaren Kanak to make it 20-14 with 8:18 remaining in the third quarter. Junction City responded by scoring the next three touchdowns to take a 42-14 lead heading into the final period. Senior running back Chris Randolph sandwiched scoring runs of 6 and 2 yards around a 32-yard TD hookup between Khoury and Humphreys.
Hays High opened the scoring the first time it had the ball, on a 44-yard run by senior running back Hayden Brown, who finished with a game-high 90 yards. Junction City took a 14-7 lead after the first, scoring on junior Russell Wilkey’s 1-yard run and a 45-yard TD pass from Khoury to Alcorn.
Khoury added a 12-yard scoring toss to Humphreys for a 20-7 lead, but the Indian defense stopped Wilkey from the 2-yard line at the end of the half.
“Our thoughts were great job defense; offense, we’ve got to get better,” Crough said. “I felt like most of the night our defense played well enough to keep it close. We just couldn’t keep it sustained offensively.”
The Indian defense sacked Khoury three times and had 11 tackles for losses.
“We knew Hays was going to be really good defensively up front,” Zimmerman said. “My hat’s off to Hays. They’re going to win a lot of games.”
Hays High sophomore quarterback Dylan Dreiling, who was making his first varsity start, was held to 4 yards passing on one completion in the first half. He tossed a pair of touchdown passes in the fourth, a 7-yarder to Kanek and a 33-yard connection with sophomore Carson Kiefer.
“He needed some confidence and he built some late,” Crough said. “Dylan’s going to be a really good quarterback for the next three years. That was a buzz saw tonight.”
Hays High will play host to rival Great Bend at 7 p.m. Friday at Lewis Field Stadium in both teams’ Western Athletic Conference opener. Great Bend won its season opener, defeating visiting Andover 13-10 in overtime.
“Hopefully, we see some good strides next week, a rivalry game,” Crough said.