Jordan Dale surprised even his coach.
Normally a starter at wide receiver for the Hays High football team, Dale was pressed into service at quarterback for Friday night’s game at Great Bend. The Indian junior rushed for 226 yards and four touchdowns and threw for another score to help lead HHS to a 43-14 win over their Western Athletic Conference rival.
Crough knew Dale – who has played QB for the junior varsity team – could do the job while subbing for junior starter Dylan Dreiling, out with a stomach ailment. What surprised the Indian coach was Dale’s speed, as he raced past Panther defenders on four long TD runs.
"We didn’t know he could run quite like that," Crough said. "It was fun to see him get a chance.
"We knew he could run; he was running away from people a little bit on JV last year," he added. "We didn’t know he had Friday night speed like that."
But it was junior Jaren Kanak who gave the Indians the early lead, scoring on a 43-yard run on the team’s first offensive play. A 2-point conversion pass by holder Tucker Veach made it 8-0 for Hays High. Kanak left the game later in the first quarter with a sprained foot and did not return.
Dale raced down the left sideline for a 26-yard TD with 7:35 left in the first period to make it 15-0 after Jack Fields’ extra point. After running back Roy Moroni – who finished with 100 yards rushing -- had a long touchdown run called by a penalty, Dale struck again on the next play. He scored from 47 yards out to give HHS a 22-0 lead with 4:29 remaining in the first quarter.
Great Bend (0-2 overall, 0-1 WAC) battled back to make it 22-14 at the half on a pair of TD passes from Joseph Moeder in the second quarter. But Hays High scored on the first play of the third quarter on a 61-yard Dale run for a 29-14 lead.
"We had a rough second quarter," Crough said. "Second half, coming out, Jordan getting a score on the first play was huge, helped get our confidence back."
Hays High (2-0, 1-0) put the game away with a pair of scores in the fourth quarter. Dale threw a 65-yard pass to Carson Kieffer for the first TD, then tacked on a 40-yard burst into the end zone for the final margin.
Crough doesn’t anticipate Dreiling’s illness to keep him out long. Dale showed Friday night he can handle the position on the varsity level, too.
"We know it’s nice to have a couple guys who can get the job done," Crough said. "We’re going to try to get them both the ball somehow. You can never have too many quarterbacks."
HHS finished with 446 yards of total offense, 381 on the ground. Great Bend passed for 178 and rushed for 67 for 245 total yards.
"They were really good again," Crough said of his defense. "Our defense is really strong and physical up front."
Hays High plays Liberal in WAC action Friday in the Indians’ home opener. Liberal (0-2, 0-1) lost 35-0 to Dodge City in Week 2. The Indians start the season 2-0 for the first time since 2014.
"It feels awesome, really happy for our seniors and older guys," Crough said. "Especially our seniors. They haven’t been 1-0 ever. Now being 2-0, we’re excited for them to have some success."