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Cardinals enjoy home sweet home
hoisington coach pic
Hoisington head football coach Zach Baird talks to his players during a break Tuesday at Hoisington. The Cardinals defeated Cimarron 76-19 in the Class 3A state playoffs. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

By Jim Misunas

Washington County (10-0)
at Hoisington (10-0)

When Washington County visits Hoisington at 3 p.m. Saturday, the Cardinals will be one victory away from staking a claim as the school’s best football team in playoff history. The Cardinals are outscoring foes 48-8 after a shocking 76-19 victory over Cimarron Tuesday.
“We’re glad to play at home,” said Hoisington coach Zach Baird. “We’ve played pretty good football at home.”
The Cardinals last reached the Class 3A quarterfinal round in 2007 when they lost 55-7 to eventual champion Garden Plain. The Cardinals lost to state runner-up Chase County 7-6 in 1990.
The Cardinals converted six takeaways into touchdowns against Cimarron. Zade Sanders and Justin Umphrey scored directly off takeaways and the Cardinals scored four more times after turnovers. Interceptions by Staffan Dolechek and Justin Bradley, a kickoff recovery by Sean Urban and a blocked punt by Hunter Hanzlick were converted into touchdowns.
“I’m not surprised by how well the guys are performing because we feature good athletes who play extremely hard,” said Hoisington coach Zach Baird. “When we play well on game nights, it’s because that’s the way we practice. We go full speed and try and get better every day.”
Baird said the Cardinals feature the perfect mix of veteran leadership that performs with consistent effort. The Cardinals tend to perform one play at a time, ignoring the scoreboard.
“It’s about never getting complacent and working to get better,” Baird said. “There is always room for improvement. There are always mistakes to clean up.”
Cardinal Hunter Hanzlick has rushed for 1,682 yards and 23 touchdowns with a 10-yard average. Steffan Dolechek has scored 15 touchdowns off 532 yards rushing and 212 yards receiving.
Cardinal Cameron Davis has five touchdowns, including several kickoff and punt returns. Quarterback Tyler Specht has passed for 10 touchdowns and 600 yards and rushed for 462 yards and nine scores. Linebacker Landen Urban averages six tackles. Dolechek has a team leading six interceptions.      
The Tigers are outscoring teams 37-10. They beat Beloit 44-34 Tuesday behind the combined effort of quarterback Konner Penning and tailback Hunter Kier, who provide much of the Tigers’ firepower. Quarterback Jerrod Hoover also provides big-play capability.
“Washington County is very athletic and runs a variety of plays,” Baird said. “They run a Flexbone look with multiple formations. They’ll run to the edge, run right at you and throw misdirection at you. They have good playmakers.”

Larned 53-21
Nickerson 22-6
Pratt 34-14
Hillsboro 76-6
Kingman 42-0
Smoky Valley 41-6
Ellsworth 46-0
Sterling 56-0
Lyons 40-7
Cimarron 76-19

Troy 36-18
Onaga 46-0
Doniphan West 34-7
Valley Heights 38-12
Centralia 32-6
McLouth 56-0
Riley County 22-19
Marysville 14-0
Minneapolis 44-6  
Beloit 44-34