After back-to-back weeks on the road, Derby returns to Panther Stadium looking to go 2-0 in league play against an improved Hutchinson squad.
The Salthawks (3-0) defeated Maize South 35-21 on Sept. 16 and moved the ball efficiently with 406 yards of total offense. Hutch used its classic flexbone offense as its primary attack with 383 rushing yards but has shown the ability to throw the ball with 6’4” senior quarterback Nic Lange. Derby (2-1) will need to be ready for several looks against a reinvented Hutch offense.
“This is the first time in a while that we have really seen them pass quite a bit,” head coach Brandon Clark said. “That is tough to defend because usually you are dialed in on the run most of the game with a couple of play-action, but they do a lot of different stuff with the quarterback.”
The Hutch offensive line got a lot of experience last season and are an aggressive front. The Panther defensive line will need to match the physicality to limit the run game of the flexbone. Clark said the film sessions will be crucial heading into the week because of the unique offense Hutchinson runs.
Senior Noah Khokhar has been a utility man for the Salthawks and was a first-team all-league selection in the flex wide receiver/running back spot. He scored three touchdowns in the win over Maize South with 111 yards on offense. Derby will have to keep an eye on Khokhar at all times. Clark said the Salthawks run him in motion quite a bit and the defense will need to try to contain his speed.
Defensively, the Salthawks have a physical defensive line that shows various fronts and a secondary that likes to get involved in stopping the run game. The linebacker position is a younger group but are still talented and aggressive.
The 45-38 win over Bishop Carroll in week three exposed several areas that the Panthers need to clean up to have success the rest of the season.
Clark thought the offensive line did a good job of firing off the line, being aggressive and giving solid protection for the backfield. Senior quarterback Brock Zerger had time to find his receivers, and Dylan Edwards was able to find holes to score four rushing touchdowns.
Coming off an emotional win, the Panthers need to stay focused throughout the week of practice to avoid an upset. The coaching staff believes the team is ready to dive into the game plan for week four.
“I think our kids are mature enough to understand the importance of each week and its preparation,” Clark said. “We have a mature team, but it relies on our coaches to make sure these 15- to 18-year-olds make sure
that every day matters, every game matters and our ultimate goal is to
get better each week. That is our goal, and we are going to keep pushing these kids.”
Cody Friesen is the sports editor for the Derby Informer. Contact him with sports tips at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow @Derby_Sports on Twitter for the latest updates.
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