YORK – Last week in Aurora, Husky senior quarterback Ethan Shaw threw three touchdowns to help lead his team to a 37-21 win over York.
The Dukes’ defense got beat on scoring throws down the field of 19 and 25 yards that night. York’s defense will get plenty more passes thrown its way Friday as the No. 1-rated team in Class B, the Hastings Tigers, travels to East Hill Stadium.
The Tigers are undefeated at 5-0 and have a high-flying spread offense that fills the stat sheet – it averages 369 total yards per game, 259 passing and 110 rushing – and puts points on the scoreboard at 39 per game.
The quarterback of that offense is dual-threat senior Jarrett Synek, who has passed for 1,265 yards and 18 touchdowns with three picks while leading the team in rushing with 245 yards and four scores.
“He’s the best quarterback in the state,” York head coach Glen Snodgrass said of Synek, who’s completing 59 percent of his throws (65 of 110).
While extremely potent, the Hastings O isn’t the most complicated attack there is. The Tigers won’t use many different formations over the course of the game, and that’s quite different than other opponents York has played, like McCook – the Bison used many different looks – and Aurora.
With Hastings, the Dukes expect to see four- and five-receiver sets on the field nearly every play.
“They aren’t going to throw a ton of stuff at you, but they have a very sound offense and they’re going to put some really good athletes on the field,” Snodgrass said. “Their receiving corps is as fast and talented as any out there in Class B football, so our defensive backs are really going to have big jobs this week keeping them in front.”
Leading that receiving corps is Carson Shoemaker, who has a team-high 27 catches for 396 yards and six touchdowns. Braden Kalvelage has hauled in 12 receptions for 279 yards – half his catches have gone for scores.
The Tigers don’t just dink and dunk, either. They have popped big plays this season – three wideouts have five scoring receptions of 40 yards or more, including two 84-yarders.
York’s defense has always been the bend-but-don’t-break kind, but that will really have to be the case this week if the Dukes hope to limit the Tigers’ big plays.
One area that the York coaching staff wants to see improvement in is winning important downs. The coaches and players call these instances “money downs,” or key plays that help decide wins and losses. They don’t all just come in the fourth quarter, either.
“We talk about that a lot. There are money downs in the third quarter and the second quarter, and we have to make sure that we’re making those plays all throughout the game,” Snodgrass said. “I thought we had a fantastic week of practice leading up to that Aurora game, and we didn’t make a lot of mistakes in that game, but the ones we made were in some really important situations.”
Hastings isn’t just an offensive-minded team. The Tigers play defense, too.
The Hastings D has given up just 28 total points this season and is coming off back-to-back shutouts over Gering and Seward.
Blake Davis is one of the leaders of that group with a team-best 35 tackles. Hastings’ front seven has proven it can get in the backfield, too, with 10 sacks on the season. Landon Jacobus has two sacks to his name and leads the team with three forced fumbles.
“They’re sound, they don’t make mistakes and they put really good athletes on the field,” Snodgrass said. “They have speed at all three levels and they have some giants right in the middle at the defensive tackle positions. It’s a defense that we’re probably going to know where they’ll be at most of the time, but they’re not going to make a mistake and they’ll rally to the ball in a hurry.”
York will come into the game riding a three-game losing streak. For the Dukes to turn things around, Snodgrass wants to see his team play cleaner football in the second and third quarters.
York has done well in fourth quarters this season, outscoring Aurora 14-12, Ralston 6-3 and McCook 7-0.
“For some reason the second and third quarters have been our biggest problems,” Snodgrass said. “We’ve come out and turned the ball over multiple times in the second quarter and we’ve just had issues in the middle of the game. I have to hand it to our kids for not giving up and fighting until the end.”
Kickoff at East Hill is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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