Hays High football coach Tony Crough saw his team get off to a slow start – again. This time, against rival Great Bend. The Panthers led 32-0 at halftime Friday night at Lewis Field Stadium and coasted to a 46-30 Western Athletic Conference victory. In last week’s season opener against Junction City, the visitors led 42-14 after three quarters in an eventual 48-30 win over HHS.
Crough said his youthful squad can’t be tentative; the Indians have to make things happen from the opening kickoff.
“Varsity football on Friday nights, you can’t wait around, you have to go,” Crough said. “We’ve got a lot of waiting around going on, waiting to see what happens instead of going to make things happen.”
Great Bend senior quarterback Dalton Miller made things happen all night, starting from the first time he touched the ball. Great Bend lined up with a receiver in the backfield. The Indians had him covered, so Miller tucked the ball under his arm and raced 70 yards into the end zone.
“Unfortunately, you don’t want Miller to pull the ball down and run,” Crough said. “He was better than all of us on that play.”
Miller finished with 159 yards rushing and accounted for five scores, running for two, passing for a pair and returning a fumble for a touchdown.
After Miller’s TD with 10:25 left in the first quarter, Great Bend made it 13-0 on a 12-yard pass from Miller to senior receiver Peyton Duvall with 4:51 remaining in the first. Miller hooked up with Duvall again on the first play of the second quarter, this time from 13 yards out, for a 19-0 lead.
Miller then ripped the ball away from the Hays High ball-carrier and raced 16 yards into the end zone to give the Panthers a 25-0 lead with 7:53 left in the first half. Great Bend made it 32-0 on a 7-yard run by senior halfback Gage Fritz 57 seconds before halftime.
Fritz scored again in the third quarter, finding the end zone from 8 yards out to give the visitors a 39-0 lead at the 6:54 mark. Hays High answered with its first touchdown of the night, a 2-yard run by senior halfback Hayden Brown to make it 39-8 with 5:11 remaining in the third. But Miller scored again for the Panthers, a 13-yard run with 2:21 left to make it 46-8 entering the fourth.
“That team’s a lot better than us right now,” Crough said. “That’s 18-year-olds and a lot of 16-year-olds for us. But at the same time, when we execute, we’re successful.”
Hays High added three TDs in the final 12 minutes. Sophomore QB Dylan Dreiling tossed a 12-yard scoring pass to sophomore wideout Carson Kiefer, followed by a 7-yard scoring run by Brown. Dreiling hooked up with sophomore Jordan Dale for a 31-yard TD pass to complete the scoring.
Dreiling finished 12-for-24 passing for 170 yards and Brown rushed for 91 yards.
Hays High (0-2) will continue WAC action next Friday at Liberal (2-0), which will be in its conference opener. The Redskins are coming off a 55-18 win at Wichita North. Liberal shut out Guymon (Okla.) 69-0 in its season opener.