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Cardinals take on 2A power Rossville for claim to state title
Hoisington Cardinals celebrate
Hoisington Cardinals celebrate after defeating Beloit in the 2A state semifinals. The undefeated Cards take on Rossville for the state title on Saturday. - photo by Hugo Gonzalez

HOISINGTON — Hoisington coach Zach Baird knows his team will take to heart his final pep talk prior to the most important football game in school history.

The No. 2 ranked Cardinals (12-0) meet Rossville (12-0) at 1 p.m. Saturday at Salina Stadium. The Cardinals were prevented from a similar state championship opportunity when Norton edged them 10-8 on a snow-covered field.
“My message will be cut it loose and enjoy it,” Baird said. “These seniors will never play a game like this again. It’s a tight group that comes to work every day. They play for one another.”
Three-time 3A state football champion Rossville downed last year’s 2A state champion Nemaha Central 31-19 last week. The Bulldogs average 295 yards rushing and 109 yards passing.
Rossville QB Torrey Horak operates an effective one-back offense with 1,352 yards passing and 24 touchdowns with 1,460 yards rushing and 27 touchdowns. TE Bo Reeves has 456 yards receiving with 10 scores. Woodrow Rezac is the Dawgs big-play back with 873 yards rushing and 12 scores. Rezac has 300 yards receiving and five touchdowns. Rezac was the 100-meter 2A state runner-up in 2019.
The Bulldogs’ speed poses a big-play challenge for the Cardinals’ defense, which has pitched two playoff shutouts.
“Our guys are excited and ready for the challenge,” Baird said. “We’re preparing the best we can.”
Hoisington LB Holt Hanzlick (6.5 tpg) has 11 tackles for loss, Cole Steinert (5.9 tpg) and Joshua Ball (4.7 tpg) and Chase Robinson (4.3 tpg) lead the defense. Robinson and Dylan Richards each have three interceptions. Joshua Ball has four fumble recoveries.
Making one-on-one tackles will dictate whether the Cardinals can limit Rossville’s offense.
“We’ll stay as basic as we can,” Baird said. “Weve got good players, so we won’t overthink it. We’ll do our job and get to the football.  We’ve got to win one-on-one matchups in space. If we win more of those, we’ll have a chance to be successful. Coach Matt Koelsch has done a great job getting our guys prepared.”
The Cardinals average 274 yards rushing keyed by Holt Hanzlick (1,044, 14 TDs), Cole Steinert (413, 7 TDs). Mason Haxton (370, 2 TDs) and Cade Mason (331, 3 TDs). QB Haxton has thrown for 778 yards and 10 touchdowns. WR Dylan Richards (218) and WR Chase Robinson (236, 5 TDs) leads the receivers.
The Cardinals play their best when their ball-control offense dictates the tempo.
“We’ll see what they’re doing defensively and go from there,” Baird said. “We might see a bubble we can attack. All our backs are good players who can make plays when given the opportunity.”
Hanzlick surpassed the 1,000-yard barrier last week after missing his junior season with an injury.
“It’s been a blessing to see him play,” Baird said. “Holt is a fantastic competitor. He’s been raised in a great family and he’s a tough player.”
The Cardinals have simulated Saturday’s 1 p.m. kickoff with daily practices at the same time.
“We’re trying to keep it as normal as possible,” he said. “We’ve practiced at 1 p.m. to get used to Saturday’s kickoff time. At this point, it’s 90 percent mental. We’ve done a good year preparing all year. We’re having a good week so far.”
Hoisington outlasted Beloit 26-0 last week. The Cardinals were welcomed back by well-wishers along with a police escort.  
“Our support our community gives us is second to none amnd that’s the type of community support we represent,” Baird said. “That’s the most enjoyable bus ride I can remember. We had a ton of people waiting for us.”

Hoisington 34, Pratt 13
Hoisington 35, Larned 19
Hoisington 32, Halstead 22
Hoisington 42, Phillipsburg 21
Hoisington 27, Minneapolis 6
Hoisington 37, Ellsworth 7
Hoisington 33, Norton 6
Hoisington 26, Beloit 20
Hoisington 49, Ellis 0
Hoisington 1, Cimarron 0 (forfeit)
Hoisington 28, Garden Plain 14
Hoisington 26, Beloit 0

Rossville 42, Centralia 6
Rossville 58, Rock Creek 57
Rossville 67, St. Marys 12
Rossville 56, McLouth 0
Rossville 63, Oskaloosa 0
Rossville 69, Pleasant Ridge 6
Rossville 50, Silver Lake 35
Rossville 53, Mission Valley 0
Rossville 53, Wathena Riverside 6
Rossville 53, Atchison Maur Hill 21
Rossville 56, Pittsburg Colgan 7
Rossville 31, Nemaha Central 19

CARDINAL OFFENSE—LT 51 Joshua Ball, 5-11, 190, 12; LG 70 Nolan Wilborn, 5-11, 202, 12; C 62 Logan Philbern, 6-0, 225, 12; RG 76 Caiden Hoffman, 6-3, 275, 9, RT 69 Legend Robinson, 6-0, 180, 12; TE 3 Cole Steinert, 5-11, 167, 12; QB 7 Mason Haxton, 6-1, 177, 12; FB 27 Holt Hanzlick; SB; SB/WR 1 Cade Mason, 5-10, 157, 12; SB/WR 25 Hunter Morris, 5-8, 177, 12; WR 22 Chase Robinson, 6-2, 188, 12

CARDINAL DEFENSE—DE 51 Joshua Ball; NG 62 Logan Philbern/76 Caiden Hoffman; DE 70 Nolan Wilborn; LB 3 Cole Steinert; OLB 1 Cade Mason; OLB 27 Holt Hanzlick; LB 69 Legend Robinson; CB 25 Hunter Morris/7 Mason Haxton; CB 15 Dylan Richards, 5-8, 150, 12; S 6 Wyatt Wikum, 5-11, 155, 11; S 22 Chase Robinson