HOISINGTON — To be sure, most of the overflowing crowd Friday night at Elton Brown Field probably wasn’t expecting Class 3A Hoisington High School to knock off 5A Great Bend.
Panthers running back Josh Lopez, along with a bend but not break defense, made sure there wasn’t an upset special in the season opener for both teams.
Lopez rushed for 103 yards in 33 carries and scored both of Great Bend’s touchdowns on 2- and 3-yard scoring plunges during a 14-6 win over the pesky Cardinals.
It offset Hoisington running back-turned-quarterback Hagan Hanzlick and a stubborn Cardinals defense that was everything as advertised.
“We’re not overly excited about our performance,” GBHS head coach Bo Black said. “We made a lot of mistakes and we had a lot of undisciplined penalties.
“With all of that being said, our hat goes off to the Hoisington Cardinals. I just thought they played an exceptional game and their kids played extremely hard. They deserved to win the game as much as we did. It was just a great performance on their part.”
In the end, the Cardinals simply ran out of time, driving into Great Bend territory without any timeouts. On fourth down and the game clock dissolving, the Panthers refused to break. Defensive end Chad Touslee brought down Hanzlick on his fourth-down rushing attempt at the GBHS 40-yard line as the game clock ran out.
“We never doubted at all that we had the capabilities to play with them,” Hoisington second-year head coach Jason Ingram said. “The kids prepared all summer for that, they did a marvelous job and we’re very pleased with the effort they put out.
“We don’t like the score, but at the same time, when you playing a 5A school that goes one way of the ball pretty much and you’re going both ways with eight kids.”
Hanzlick, who rushed for 1,463 yards and scored 14 touchdowns last season during Hoisington’s 5-4 campaign, finished with 67 rushing yards in his first game as starting quarterback. He was able to shed tacklers throughout the game.
“He’s a very good football player,” Black said of Hanzlick. “They have a lot of good football players on their team … I think our defense played very well and our offense just really struggled. Their defense took it to us physically.
“We’ve talked all preseason about being a physical football team and being able to run the ball. We couldn’t find ways to do that. It was disappointing, so it’s time to go back to work and get better.”
The Panthers had six personal foul unsportsmanlike penalties in the game, uncharacteristic for GBHS teams of yesteryear.
Late in the first quarter in a scoreless game, Panthers junior quarterback Bryce Beck, making his first start, exchanged some pleasantries with Cardinals defensive end Cody Stetler near the three-minute mark. Beck got the last word in and, consequently, was flagged for an unsportsmanlike penalty.
Great Bend was penalized 11 times for 105 yards, with over half of them being 15-yard personal foul calls. Two Panthers — junior running back Jonathan Allende and senior defensive back Bryce Hofmeister — were both ejected in the second half.
“We had six total,” Black said, “and two on Johnny, which got him kicked out of the game … he’s a big part of our offense. There were also two on Bryce Hofmeister.
“He’s a huge part of our defense, and that took us out of certain packages we couldn’t do. It’s just undisciplined. That’s just a direct reflection on me. That’s my fault and it’s going to be corrected pretty doggone quick.”
Great Bend broke the scoring drought in the waning moments of the first half, capping a 13-play, 58-yard scoring march on Lopez’s 2-yard TD with 5.6 seconds left before halftime.
On fourth-and-seven near the Cardinals 15, Allende caught a 12-yard pass near the left corner of the end zone, setting up Lopez’s score. Mario Espino kicked the extra point to make it 7-0 at halftime.
“We competed very well,” said Ingram, a former longtime assistant at GBHS before taking over with the Cardinals before last season. “We have a very aggressive defense and that’s what we’re banking on this year.
“We did what they needed to do. Unfortunately, a couple of penalties hurt us and gave them some first downs on long distances to keep drives alive for Great Bend.”
Hoisington jolted the Panthers with a 54-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown from Hanzlick to Avery Urban at the 10:01 mark in the third quarter, accounting for all but 25 of the Cards’ passing yards.
But Great Bend would answer in the fourth quarter. Lopez’s second scoring run proved to be the difference. He was the fourth-leading rusher in the Western Athletic Conference last season, and picked up where he left off, although it wasn’t easy at times.
“I just thought our defense just played extremely well,” Black said. “The missing portion of that was an offense. We missed blocks and got tackled in the backfield.
“I thought Josh played OK. I don’t think we gave him much of a chance up front. “he truth of the matter is, no matter what we did, we weren’t real good at it. Whether that was our power sets or spread sets or base offense, we just weren’t very good.”
The Panthers could still hang their hat on a potent defense. Touslee led the Panthers with 13 tackles, including three for minus-yardage, along with one caused fumble and one fumble recovery.
A trio of Panthers linebackers — Hunter Harrison, Matt Marshall and Ethan Henderson — also came up big. Harrison had 11 stops, Marshall had eight and Henderson had six tackles, caused a fumble and recovered another.
GBHS heads to Ulysses this coming Friday night. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
Elton Brown Field
Great Bend 14, Hoisington 6
1 2 3 4 F
Great Bend 0 7 0 7 — 14
Hoisington 0 0 6 0 — 6
Great Bend — Josh Lopez 3 run
Great Bend — Avery Urban 54 pass from Hagan Hanzlick (kick failed)
Great Bend — Lopez 2 run (Espino kick)
First Downs 14 9
Rushes-yards 50-151 30-85
Passing 79 79
Total net yards 230 164
Comp-Att-Int 6-14-2 3-11-1
Punts-Avg. 3-32.7 3-30.0
Fumbles-lost 1-0 3-2
Penalties-yds 11-105 4-40
RUSHING — Hoisington, Hanzlick 20-66, Chance Demel 6-9, KC Stephens 1-2, Jacob Durrrett 1-5, Avery Urban 2-3; Great Bend, Lopez 34-103, Matt Marshall 4-26, Jonathan Allende 5-19, Bryce Beck 5-5, Michael Haines 1-1, Brock Ibarra 1-minus-1)
PASSING — Hoisington, Hanzlick 3-11-1 79; Great Bend, Marshall 4-6-1 53, Beck 2-8-1 26.
RECEIVING — Hoisington, Urban 2-77; Demel 1-2; Great Bend, Mitch Johnsonn 2-41, Lopez 2-14, Allende 1-12, Beck 1-12.