Last year’s Class 2A regional runners-ups are back for another season with much of last year’s defense and offense graduated.
“This season we will lean heavily on our talented skills players to lead the way,” coach Demetrius Cox said. “Having graduated an amazing group of talented young men who played a vital role in our success last season, we now have to turn our attention to preparing some young guys to step up and fill those starting roles on both sides of the ball.”
Top returning players are Tyson Plenert, who showed up big in the team’s opening loss Friday, along with Nicholas Smith, Abrey Nichols, Jacob Thiessen, Pedro Nieto, and Lane Rogers.
“As a head coach,” Cox said, “my biggest challenge personally is finding a way to reach each player in a life-changing way, a way that can impact their lives on or off the football field.
“While some might see football as a sport kids play on Friday night, I see it as a God calling and purpose in my life to do His work of saving lives.
“Football is more than a game. It’s more than winning or losing on Friday night. Over my time as a player and coach, I have learned that with the right approach, football can be used in a way to teach kids how to win in life, with the belief that if we are doing the right things together, success will come.”
In a non-district game Friday night, the Trojans came up short in their season opener, losing 21-14 at Haven despite a late rally.
Hillsboro got on the board in the second quarter with a 35-yard touchdown pass from Dawson Boldt to Plenert.
Late in the third quarter, Haven was leading 21-7 and threatening to put the game out of reach when Sutton Redger came up with a forced fumble on fourth and goal, getting Hillsboro the ball back on their own 4 yard line.
An ensuing drive stalled, but passes of 14 yards to Seth Driggers, 42 yard to Plenert, and 24 yards to Smith on the next possession helped the Trojans march to a rushing touchdown and close to within one score with two minutes left.
Recovering an onside kick at Haven’s 48, Hillsboro passed to inside the 35 but went backward from there, seeing its drive stall with less than two minutes remaining on 4th and 24 at the 38.
Boldt led the team in passing with 215 yards and a 55.6% completion percentage and one touchdown.
Plenert was the leading receiver with four catches for 94 yards and a score. Wyatt Plenert was the leading rusher with seven carries for 35 yards.
David Schafer led the team in tackles with 9 ½, including 3 ½ tackles for losses. Sam Sorensen had eight, including three for losses.
Challenges may not get easier for the Trojans this week as Hillsboro will play a non-league game Friday at Nickerson, which opened its season with a 29-0 rout of Lyons.