With Swather Ryan Schadler rushing for 203 yards on 16 carries, the Eagles simply were unable to compete.
“Schadler, he’s just outright fast and speed kills. If you’ve got it, you can do a lot of things,” said KHS head coach Curtis Albin.
During the first half, the Swather defense was just as impressive as its offense, as they seldom allowed the Eagles to move past the 50-yard line.
But in the process, Kingman surprised itself with its passing game. The Eagles, with Mitchell Packard as quarterback, threw for 219 yards, as opposed to Hesston’s 163.
Hesston jumped out to a 33-0 lead with two touchdowns apiece from Schadler and Chance Gehrer, one from Grant Raleigh, and three Matt Steele kicks, with only 2:02 remaining in the first half. By then, Albin decided to have his Eagles rely less on a running game and more on a passing game.
After Kingman’s Zach Anderson got the Eagles to the 25-yard-line with 46 first-half seconds remaining, Packard threw to Nick Meng. And while the pass was not completed, the Swathers got called for pass interference, bringing Kingman to the 13-yard line.
As the clock started to wind down, Packard was sacked by Hesston’s Bryan Medina for a loss of nine yards. But Packard responded by connecting with Anderson on a 22-yard pass. Packard completed the PAT to close the half 33-8.
The Swathers bounced back after the half, scoring on a Wyatt McKinney pass to Tyler McCartney, followed by a Steele kick.
But on the following possession, Kingman’s Braxton Bangert brought the ball up to midfield, and Packard connected with Brandon Bradshaw for a first-down on the 41-yard line. Anderson would get the Eagles back on the scoreboard on a 24-yard touchdown run.
Packard continued to connect with Bradshaw for 36 yards and Bangert for 20, before throwing to Anderson for a 22-yard touchdown play with 2:11 remaining in the third quarter.
Hesston reached the end zone twice in the fourth quarter, with Schadler and McKinney both rushing for touchdowns. Both Steele kicks were good.
While the two teams entered the contest with equal records, Albin said the Swathers have a tough squad all around and are worthy of the pre-season accolades.
“They played well. They’ve got really some good skilled position kids, and their defensive line beat us up,” he said. “I think they played some good teams (in the early part of the season.) They have a good coaching staff and I think they fixed a lot of things.”
And while the loss was disappointing, Albin found a very bright spot.
“We gained some in some areas. We found out we can throw the ball a little better than we might have thought,” Albin said. “We’ll take the good with the bad tonight. We had to change gears and start throwing the ball around. At the same time, we found out that we can, and people are going to have to guard a different facet against us.”
After facing the two-time defending CKL-South champions, the Eagles next week will face the two-time defending CKL-North championship team from Halstead (4-1).
“We’ll load up and try again,” said Albin. “We don’t have a weak team left. We just have to continue to get better and find out ways to score points and keep other people from scoring points.”
Hesston’s next test will be against Pratt (3-2).