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Down on the farm
Hoisingtons Steffan Dolecheck
Down on the farm - photo by Everett Royer

An examination of Hoisington’s Week 5 game highlights in a road game against Kingman shows Cardinal free safety Steffan Dolechek’s ability to make plays on both sides of the ball. Entering the contest, Hoisington was 3-1 and a win would tie the Cardinals’ victory total from a 4-5 year in 2013. Kingman was receiving statewide attention after it shut out it first four opponents.

Dolechek had three pass breakups on Kingman throws. The first time, Kingman senior quarterback Parker Maloney rolled out to his right and threw downfield. Dolechek came up from behind and knocked the ball away from the receiver. On the second highlight, the receiver appears to make a grab near the ground, but Dolechek jarred the ball loose. The third play, Dolechek is barely in the screen until he raced across the field and defended the pass.

On the fourth and final play, Dolechek, also Hoisington’s multi-purpose offensive threat, made a big gain along the right side. He carried six times for 36 yards in the 21-7 victory. Nine months later, Dolechek called the Kingman contest one of the season’s top highlights.

“They probably shouldn’t have scored,” Dolechek said.

Dolechek’s three passes defended never showed up in the box score but his defensive value was displayed in the team numbers. Kingman, which eventually finished 6-3, completed just 8 of 20 passes for 98 yards. It finished with 29 carries for 70 yards, which was a season low.

Dolechek completed the year with 35 tackles and a team-high three interceptions for Hoisington, which enjoyed a five-win improvement under first-year head coach Zach Baird.

The Cardinals finished 9-2 with an overtime Week 1 loss to rival Larned and a last-second road loss to Minneapolis in the playoffs.

Hoisington outscored opponents 355-95 and finished third in the 64-team Class 3A in scoring defense. The Cardinals arguably had the best year in school history. It tied the second-furthest postseason advancement in school annals, trailing only quarterfinal appearances in 1990 and 2007.

“I would definitely say Coach Baird has turned things around for us, just getting back to play the way that we used to play, I guess,” Dolechek said. “He is very intense, he definitely loves it to be physical, and that’s how it looks in our games, and how he definitely wants it to play out.”

Dolechek’s physicality and playmaking ability comes from his family farm.

The farm goes back several generations. The 6-foot-1, 170-pound Dolechek, his dad and his brother, Grant, all help on the farm. Dolechek said “all the dedication” from working the farm helps with his sports.

Grant Dolechek is a junior and plays football and basketball with his older brother. Steffan was also Hoisington’s boys’ basketball player of the year for an 8-13 team last winter. He led the team with 13.3 points, 2.5 assists and 1.8 steals per contest, and ranked third with 4.1 rebounds.

“Pretty much what I do when I am not playing sports or hanging out with my friends,” Dolechek said of farming. “That’s what we enjoy.” Baird, a former assistant, changed the offense to a flexbone look last fall.

Dolechek started one game his freshman year and started both ways as a sophomore and junior. He has always played free safety in the past and could play some cornerback this fall.

In the flexbone, Dolechek moved from wide receiver to a wing in 2014. Hoisington lost 21-20 in overtime at Larned to start the season. The Cardinals had won six in a row versus the Indians in the previous decade. Larned eventually finished 4-5. Then, the Cardinals defeated Nickerson, a longtime struggling program that finished 1-8, in a 7-0 contest. Week 3 yielded a change for Hoisington
in a 21-7 victory against Pratt, followed by a 35-6 win against Hillsboro.

“It was definitely a tough loss to Larned, it was always a rivalry game,” Dolechek said.

“Our next couple of games were kind of slow, too, it was our first year running the flexbone, so we really didn’t know a lot about that, but we got it figured out and just kind of built some
confidence and kept playing.”

The Kingman victory elevated Hoisington, which won nine straight contests, including a 48-6 victory versus Cimarron in the first round of the playoffs. Hoisington led Minneapolis, 14-3, on the road after three quarters, but the Lions scored twice, including in the final seconds, for a 17-14 victory. This year, Hoisington brings back eight offensive and seven defensive starters.

“Didn’t end how I wanted it to,” Dolechek said. “I think we will have a good team this year.”

Statewide delivery of the 2015 issue of Kansas Pregame is complete . The 10th-annual release of the only statewide high school football preview in Kansas is a 144-page comprehensive look at all levels of football in Kansas with a number of new features including All in the Family (a look at some of the top father-son coach-player duos), Down on the Farm (a look at some of the best farmboy football players in Kansas), and Dynamic Duos (a look at some of the top pairs of players in the state).   

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