It wasn’t like he took a blueprint with him, when Jason Ingram accepted the Hoisington High School head-coaching position a couple years ago.
Ingram has his Cardinals football team in the Class 3A state playoffs tonight, traveling to Holcomb (8-1) for a first-round game, starting at 7.
Ingram, formerly a Great Bend assistant for several seasons, saw first-hand how Bo Black’s Panthers teams improved over the past few seasons after he huddled with GBHS athletic director David Meter to implement tougher regular-season schedules.
It seems to be paying off for the Cards (5-4), who have hit a late-season stride after absorbing losses to 5A Great Bend, 14-6 in Week 1; powerhouse La Crosse, 34-12 in Week 2; Phillipsburg, 27-6 in Week 5; and powerhouse Scott City, 36-0 in Week 7.
“The main thing Mr. (Joel) Mason, our athletic director, and I were looking at was just strengthening our schedule, so that we can consistently have good competition throughout the year,” Ingram said. “In the past, our schedules have been tough a little bit and just a real light mode in the middle and then we get into district play and we’re not really prepared for it.”
The aforementioned losses helped the Cards get better late this time around. They won the Mid-Central Activities Association title with a 3-0 record, beating the likes of Larned, 60-14; Ellinwood, 54-0; and Thomas More Prep Marian, 45-0, which clinched the conference title outright, along with a first-round berth to the playoffs. They also had a resounding victory over Russell, 45-12 in district play.
“Our team has really come together lately and we’re reducing the fundamental errors that we were making,” Ingram said. “We’re really focusing in and we feel we’re in the best situation possible right now.”
Holcomb and Hoisington had one common opponent: Scott City. Holcomb’s lone loss this season came at the hands of Scott City, 21-7.
Holcomb opened the season with a 28-27 triumph over Meade, the 2A champion in 2010. It has also beaten the likes of Ulysses, 35-25, as well as Goodland, Colby, Southwestern Heights (Kismet), Lakin and Cimarron.
Leading the way for the Cards is senior quarterback Hagan Hanzlick, who has rushed 1,047 yards in 135 carries this season while scoring 14 touchdowns.
“This is the second year Hagan has been over 1,000 yards,” Ingram said. “He’s just been a big workhorse the last two seasons. This season, we’ve moved him to quarterback and he’s had to throw the football, but a lot of our offense is based off a read concept and also a power game concept of a quarterback.
“It goes along with what a lot of colleges are doing anymore with their quarterbacks and really, he’s a running back through-and-through, and that’s where his heart is. Chance Demel has also stepped up in a running back role, so we’re very pleased with what our backfield is doing and that all stems from our offensive line does, week-in and week-out.”
Demel has 758 rushing yards on 120 carries for the season.