For the fourth time in five years, the Hoisington Cardinals eliminated the Cimarron Bluejays from the postseason, winning 41-18 in the Class 2A regional final Friday in Cimarron.
Turnovers were the story of the game for the Bluejays, as they could not get any momentum going offensively with three miscues and a turnover-on-downs in the first half, and all four were on the Hoisington side of the field.
“We had way too many turnovers for a playoff game, and that is something that we talked about that we wanted to eliminate,” Cimarron head coach Greg Koenig said. “We really hurt ourselves in the first half — had a couple of opportunities to score and didn't punch it in and then we gave up a late score with a minute to go before halftime.”
Any momentum Cimarron felt they had achieved, quickly turned over to Hoisington.
“That made it 27-12 before half, and we really thought we could have had the lead and I think that took the wind out of our sails,” Koenig said.
The Bluejays end their season at 8-2, while Hoisington advances to the state quarterfinals.
Friday’s game started slow, as both high powered offenses were held scoreless in their opening drives. This didn't last long, however, as the Cardinals were able to turn a Cimarron fumble, which they recovered on their own 18-yard line, into a drive the scored the first points of the game, giving them an early 7-0 lead.
The Bluejays rebounded, converting on two 4th downs on their way to scoring on a 3-yard run by senior Anthony Erives. But after failing to convert on the two-point try, Cimarron still trailed the Cardinals, 7-6.
A series of three straight turnovers — a Cardinal fumble, followed by a Bluejay interception and then another Cardinal fumble — on three consecutive plays, finally ended up with a Bluejay possession.
But the miscues continued, as a second fumble stopped the Bluejay drive at the 3-yard line. The Cardinals immediately took advantage and extended their first half-lead when senior running back Xavier Robinson busted out a 75-yard run.
On the ensuing kickoff, Cimarron’s Peyton Marshall returned it 80 yards to jump the Bluejays back into the game. A failed two point conversion kept Hoisington in the 13-12 lead.
A surprise onside kick was recovered by the Bluejays’ Oscar Macias, giving the ball to Cimarron in Hoisington territory.
But another opportunity in Hoisington territory ended in nothing for Cimarron — this time, a turnover-on-downs stopped them.
Hoisington converted that turnover-on downs into points when Wyatt Pedigo scored his second touchdown of the night, from 2 yards out, with 1:54 left in the first half.
After a three-and-out and only taking a minute off the clock, the Bluejays punted back to the Cardinals with 54 seconds left in the half, which was enough time for Hoisington to add to their lead when a screen pass from sophomore quarterback Mason Haxton found Pedigo for a 21-yard score with no time left in the half.
Not only did Wyatt Pedigo gash Cimarron for four touchdowns — one receiving and three rushing — he also played a big part in stopping the running game for the Cardinals.
“Pedigo usually plays inside linebacker, and he played outside linebacker and we had a hard time accounting for him in the blocking,” Koenig said. “They had a nice defensive scheme that caught us off guard a little bit with it.”
A few things went wrong for Cimarron on Friday, but coach Koenig lays most of the credit with Hoisington for playing a good game.
“Hats off to Hoisington,” he said. “They are a very well-coached team, and they don't hurt themselves and credit to them for playing well and, obviously, stopping us from performing like I know we can.”
Hoisington dominated the time of possession in the second half, denying the Bluejays any chance for a comeback, ending the Bluejays’ season.
“We couldn't stop the running game, especially in the second half and we couldn't get our defense off the field,” Koenig said.
But although the second half was tough for the Bluejays, Koenig knows it wasnt for a lack of effort.
“We are so proud of our entire team. It would of been easy to roll over in the second half, since everything went against us, but I just felt like our kids played with some passion,” he said. “The scoreboard does not necessarily indicate it, but we flew around and played as hard as we possibly could. That’s all we’re going to ask from our kids, to give us your best.”
The season might be over now for Cimarron, but the accomplishment of snapping a playoff winless streak of 20 years is not lost on Koenig.
“It was a really good season. We had pretty high expectations and we achieved a lot of good things. First playoff win here in 20 years, the most wins in a single season (8), and we think the seniors will graduate as the winningest class in school history. So just a bunch of good things,” he said.
The departing seniors have created a winning tradition at Cimarron, and Koenig knows that future classes will benefit from them for years to come.
“They established something here,” he said. “It started with last year’s seniors and then this year’s seniors built on it and took it to a higher level. The expectations in the program are very high and the standards are very high, and those seniors have a lot to do with that.”