By JIM MISUNAS
HOISINGTON — The No. 1 ranked Hoisington Cardinals will write the next chapter of their historic 2016 football season when Lakin visits for Tuesday’s Class 3A playoff opener.
The Cardinals (9-0) reached the Class 3A quarterfinals last year before losing 44-8 to Halstead. The two-time Central Kansas League champions have beaten five playoff qualifiers, including District champions Pratt and Wichita Collegiate, last year’s 3A state runner-up.
“Our Central Kansas League has seven playoff qualifiers, which is a testament to how tough our league is this year,” said Hoisington coach Zach Baird. “We’ve played a good schedule.”
“I like our football team,” Baird said. “When we play good football, we’re a tough team. When we reach the playoffs, we want things to remain the same as far as preparation. We’ll continue to execute the things that we do well. We have have minor things to clean up. We learned last year that on any given night, any team can beat you in the playoffs.”
Record-breaking TB Hunter Hanzlick (1,422 yards, 23 TDs), WB Cameron Davis (918 yards, 11 TDs) and WB Sean Urban (535 yards, 7 TDs) average 387 yards rushing behind an experienced offensive line.
“I’ll take a great offensive line any day of the week,” Baird said.
The Cardinals beat Lyons 62-3 two days after the father of starting center Jeremy Breit was killed in an industrial accident. The Cardinals played one of their best football games in Baird’s memory.
“It was a special night, but a tough night,” Baird said. “I was extremely proud of the way our guys rallied behind Jeremy and Jacok Breit.”
Lakin’s Flexbone offense averages 232 yards rushing with a balanced backfield — Dawson Shalberg (562 yards), Clay Michel (445 yards, Williams Gilleland (402 yards) and Jose Perez (366 yards). QB Hunter Kirby has thrown for 415 yards and seven TDs.
“They have good sized tackles and good athletes,” Baird said.
Hoisington is 7-15 all-time in the football playoffs.
CLASS 3A — Larned coach A.B. Stokes guided the 2-7 Indians to a 42-21 upset of Ellsworth to earn a playoff showdown against Cimarron (7-2). The Indians are 2-6 all-time in the football playoffs. The Indians reached the Class 3A semifinals in 1971 before losing 28-14 to Kapaun-Mt. Carmel.
Larned has employed a successfully running game keyed by TB Kolby Keith, FB Nate Williams, RB Anthony McConnell and QB Carson Smith. WR Dalton Bright and WR Damontay Phillips have keyed the passing game. The Indians threw for two touchdowns on reverse passes against Hoisington. Cimarron is paced by qwarterback Nic Ast.
1 QB—Tyler Specht, 5-10, sr.
27 TB—Hunter Hanzlick, 6-0, sr.
5 WB—Cameron Davis, 6-2, sr.
23 WB—Sean Urban, 5-7, jr.
42 TE—Jake Curtis, 170, jr.
4 TE—Kyle Lang, 6-1, 190, sr.
51 RG—Landen Urban, 260, sr.
65 RT—Ben Schneider, 6-0, sr.
60 C—Jeremy Breit, 185, sr.
69 LG—Justin Bradley, 220, sr.
55 LT—Grant Dolechek, 185, sr.
Garden Plain 8-1 at Wichita Independent 3-6
SE Saline 7-2 at Halstead 8-1
Lakin 5-4 at Hoisington 9-0
Norton 6-3 at Marysville 7-2
Douglass 3-6 at Chaparral 8-1
Sterling 6-3 at Hesston 6-3
Riley County 5-4 at Phillipsburg 9-0
Larned 2-7 at Cimarron 7-2
Pleasant Ridge 3-6 at Nemaha Central 9-0
Mission Valley 6-3 at Silver Lake 9-0
Humboldt 4-5 at Wellsville 8-1
Fredonia 7-2 at Galena 7-2
Sabetha 8-1 at Atchison Maur Hill 7-2
Perry 4-5 at Rossville 8-1
Osage City 4-5 at Jayawk-Linn 9-0
Riverton 2-7 at Caney Valley 7-2