Hoisington outlasts Southeast of Saline in 2A battle of unbeatens

Published: Nov. 10, 2023 at 11:20 PM CST
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HOISINGTON, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) - There was much talk about Southeast of Saline’s defense heading into Friday’s sectional game in Hoisington. The Trojans led the state in plays for loss, and the Trojans held seven of their first 10 opponents to one touchdown or fewer. Hoisington was not far behind after holding six opponents to a touchdown or fewer. That made Friday’s 91 total points a shocker. In the lone battle of unbeatens in the sectional round across Kansas, Hoisington held off the Trojans in a 49-42 shootout.

”I thought we executed,” said Cardinal coach Zach Baird. “I thought guys made plays. I thought (senior quarterback Tony Moore) was phenomenal. We’ve been keeping him under wraps, not doing everything with him. Tonight, we told him we were going to turn him loose. He made plays. I’m super proud of everybody, but Moore was special.

”Hoisington led 35-28 at the half and got a 40-yard completion from Moore to senior Mason Alderice on the opening drive of the third quarter. Moore punched it in from three yards out on the next play to bump the Cardinal lead to 42-28.

The misdirection play worked all night for Southeast, and the Trojans used it to answer via a 37-yard completion from senior Daniel Kejr to sophomore Grady Gebhardt. Hoisington drove again, converting a third-and-17 and scoring on a 1-yard run from junior Jason Robinson. That made the score 49-36 Hoisington.

There were few defensive stops all night but Robinson picked off a Kejr pass on the next Trojan possession. Southeast forced the lone Hoisington punt on the next drive. This time the Trojans made it count. Kejr found senior Wyatt Boyd on a 17-yard strike to make it a one-possession game at 49-42 with 4:49 remaining.

Southeast burned through its timeouts but the Cardinals were facing third-and-14 late in the game when Moore completed a screen pass to junior Teron Kraft, who was able to run 17 yards for the first down. That all but secured the win.Moore was huge all night. The senior broke a 43-yard touchdown run in the first half for a 14-8 score. He later intercepted a Kejr pass, then ran 38 yards on the ensuing possession to set up a 1-yard touchdown run from Kraft. Moore threw for 158 yards and a touchdown on 7-of-10 passing. He added another 130 yards and two scores on 13 carries. Kraft ran the ball 31 times for 156 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Alderice caught two passes for 68 yards and also ran the ball four times for 36 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore Mason Martin caught two passes for 35 yards. Sophomore Carson Mason had a big 17-yard touchdown reception in the first half.

The Trojans managed just 99 yards on the ground. That meant Kejr had a big night with 392 yards on 19-of-33 passing with five touchdowns and two interceptions. Junior Tucker Thaxton had six receptions for 120 yards and a touchdown. Senior Cameron Witte added 87 yards on three receptions, and senior Nathan Friesen caught three balls for 63 yards and a score.Southeast of Saline ends its season at 10-1. Hoisington moves to 11-0 on the season and draws Norton in the state semifinals next Friday. Baird’s Cardinals are 59-10 since 2018 with runs that include a state runner-up finish in 2020, and a perfect 11-0 showing before a dramatic loss at Norton in the state semifinals in 2019.

”I think it’s a bunch of guys who are willing to work hard,” said Baird. “We’ve been lucky enough to have that over the years. This group is no different. They should be really proud of what they’ve accomplished.”