BY CAYDEN SANDERS
The Hays High football team is on a collision course with another ranked high school team for week three of the Kansas High School football season. Both Hays High (5A) and Manhattan High School (6A) will meet on Friday trying to prove to those unfamiliar with their programs that they are still contenders in their respective classifications.
For the Hays High Indians, the team has already had a big game this season, getting their first win without the 2022 senior class. This past week the team needed to prove that they could still beat their league rivals just 60 miles – the Great Bend Panthers. Hays High did just that, winning 33-7.
“It’s nice to get our rivals out of the way, it gives us a glance at where we stand in the WAC [Western Athletic Conference], but Garden City is not that far away on our schedule,” Indians Head Coach Tony Crough said. “You never know who is going to win the WAC year in and year out; it is so unpredictable.”
Hays High’s offense had no issues moving the ball in the first half as the Indians led the Panthers 26-0, earning 309 total yards. Malik Bah started the scoring fest for the team as he ran up the middle.
Kyreese Groen threw a touchdown pass to Keamonie Archie for an 18-yard reception; Archie’s first touchdown ever. Groen then threw another touchdown pass to Archie for a 75-yard reception.
“That’s the threat we need; we need to have a deep down the field threat. With the way, Kyreese [Groen] throws the ball, we have a good chance to win some games,” Crough said. “We moved Keamonie [Archie] to the inside, and it has allowed us to be more productive on the deep plays.”
Bah forced his way to get his second touchdown on the day, putting the Indians up on the Panthers 26-0 with 8:10 left to go in the half.
“His patience is what us coaches have been impressed with; He used to beat everyone to the sideline; now, he sticks his foot into the ground, and he makes one cut and finds the hole,” Crough said of Bah.
The Indians defense played four quarters without giving up a score – the final two quarters against Junction City and the first half against Great Bend.
“Defensively, we didn’t know that we would not have Remy Stull until Thursday, so we threw Ben Pfiefer in that spot, and he did a good job filling that spot,” Crough said. “I got to give credit to Coach Keeley and Coach Kreutzer, who gave us six quarters of good defensive football, as Keeley is breaking into the 5A ranks this season.”
Nobody on the Indians had a better night than linebacker Wyatt Waddell, who had two interceptions, multiple tackles, and a tackle for loss.
“I am so proud of that kid; he has played quarterback all of his life, and being in high school, he transitioned to whatever we put him in,” Crough said. “We are just glad he is seeing the rewards of the hard work he has put in for this team for the past couple of years.”
The Indians scored on a QB option that gave Groen a rushing touchdown. The Panthers’ offense scored with 9:16 left in the game on a QB run.
Looking ahead to Hays High’s upcoming game against Manhattan, the Manhattan Indians went 9-2 a season ago but ultimately fell short in the 6A playoffs. This season, Manhattan started the season with 6A juggernaut Derby High. Manhattan left Derby with a 26-23 overtime win against the favored Derby team.
The Indians of Hays enter week three placing 5th best in the class of 5A while Manhattan enters the game with the best ranking in 6A. The stage is set for both teams to prove they are contenders in their respective classifications. The “War on the Prairie” is set to kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday at Lewis Feild.