KEARNEY — Kearney Catholic is riding a four-game winning streak after a 27-14 road victory over then-undefeated Sutton last Friday.
At 7 p.m. Friday, the Stars (5-1) will compete in their second consecutive road game when they travel to Cozad to face the Haymakers (4-2).
Here are three areas to watch in Friday night’s contest between the Stars and Haymakers:
The Stars and Haymakers each have won four consecutive games.
The Haymakers started the season with lopsided losses to Ord and Gothenburg. Since their 0-2 start, the Haymakers have rattled off four straight victories with wins over Chase County, Sidney, Holdrege and Minden.
Besides the victory over Sutton, the Stars defeated then-undefeated Ogallala and three-win Minden. During their winning streak, the Stars are averaging 29 points per game while allowing 19.
“Our defensive play has been crucial to our success,” KCHS coach Rashawn Harvey said. “We’ve been executing well on the defensive side, have been able to slow good teams down, playing assignment football, tackling well and not making a lot of mental mistakes defensively.”
Confidence building victory
The Stars’ victory over Sutton marked the second time in three weeks they defeated an undefeated opponent.
The Stars scored 17 points in the second quarter to build a 24-6 lead, putting the run-oriented Mustangs at a disadvantage.
The Mustangs stuck to their approach and finished the contest with 349 rushing yards. They were averaging just over 32 points per game prior to Friday’s contest.
Heirnich Haarberg and Cale Conrad combined for nearly 275 rushing yards, which allowed the Stars’ offense to finish with 410 yards of total offense.
“It gives the players, staff and heck even our own supporters confidence in our team,” Harvey said. “We are just riding that confidence. We know that we can play with anybody if we choose to.
“When we play good, mentally-sound and error-free football, we play with relentless effort. That’s what we did Friday night against Sutton. We played with relentless effort in all three phases of the game.”
For the third consecutive week, the Stars will face a run-heavy team. The Haymakers are averaging 251.2 rushing yards per game compared to 45.2 passing yards per contest.
The Haymakers have four players who have accumulated at least 200 rushing yards this season. They rely heavily on running back Matthew Shuster. He’s carried most of the workload for the Haymakers, rushing for a team-high 616 yards and three touchdowns on 100 carries in five games.
Quarterback Nolan Wetovick and running backs Conner Westcoat and Jacob Weatherly also have impacted the rushing attack for the Haymakers.
“We knew that with our schedule that we were going to have those type of teams that want to ground and pound, especially with the predicted conditions on Friday night,” Harvey said. “It’s going to be cold. They aren’t going to want to put the ball in the air.
“We are going to have to stop the run game. With the last couple of week playing teams that want to ground and pound, we’ve prepared successfully for them so our goal is to prepare successfully this week also.”