Clemson Tigers commit, Jared Kanak, scores three touchdowns as Hays Indians eliminate Andover Trojans

Lionel Tipton
Special to Butler County Times-Gazette
Hays High's Jared Kanek runs around the right side against Andover's defense on Friday, Nov. 12 at Andover High. Kanak, a senior, scored three touchdowns in the 18-6 win for Hays.

ANDOVER, Kansas – Highly touted Hays senior quarterback Jaren Kanak completed just one pass Friday night against Andover – and that was to Andover’s Grant Weber. 

Even Kanak himself was puzzled afterward.

“There were zero passing yards?” he said. “I’ve never had a game like that. That is a little strange.”

But Kanak’s legs more than made up for what his arm couldn’t do. He rushed 25 times for 187 yards and all three Indians touchdowns in an 18-6 Class 5A regional victory over the second-seeded Trojans (7-3). 

“He didn’t need to pass,” Andover coach Ken Dusenbury said afterward. “He’s a heck of a football player.”

Kanak is headed next year to NCAA Division I power Clemson – not as a quarterback but as a linebacker and safety. His 6-foot-2, 215-pound body gave Andover fits all night – he even was in on the punt-return team.

In next week’s sectional play, Hays (8-1), the West’s seventh seed, will travel to third-seeded Maize (8-2), which ousted No. 6 Bishop Carroll, 28-21.

Trojans junior quarterback Brady Strausz had better luck with his passes, completing 13 of 18 for 152 yards – including a sparkling 55-yard strike to junior Xadrian Carbajal for the Trojans’ only points. The TD cut Hays’ lead to 18-6 with 2:56 left in the game, but Strausz couldn’t engineer any more scoring drives.

The game started fairly positively for Andover. The Trojans’ defense stopped Kanak a yard short on fourth-and-7 at the Andover 37, and Strausz connected with senior Tayton Klein for 8 yards on first down. Senior Max Middleton then ran twice for 4 and 7 yards, but the drive eventually stalled at the Hays 26. 

Neither team got even close to the end zone in the first quarter, which ended scoreless. Andover’s defense again rose to the occasion, holding Kanak to 4 yards on fourth-and-11 at the Trojan 26. But Andover could only drive as far as the Hays 43 before turning the ball over on downs.

It was there that Kanak led a drive that would result in the only points of the half, covering 57 yards in 10 plays. The Indians drove to the Andover 3, and Kanak took it into the end zone from there with 1:37 before halftime.

On the ensuing Trojans drive, Strausz hit Klein on back-to-back plays for 17 yards each, reaching the Hays 28. A holding penalty crippled the drive, and the Trojans fumbled in the final seconds of the half.

Two more Kanak scores pinned the Trojans’ backs to the wall, but Strausz provided a glimmer of hope when he hit Carbajal on a third-and-14 play from the Andover 45. 

Hays recovered the onside kick at its 48 and benefited from an Andover penalty to move to the Trojans 42. A holding penalty stifled the Indians from there, and they gave the ball back to Andover with less than a minute remaining.

Strausz couldn’t find an open receiver from there, and was sacked twice as the game ended.

Andover will lose a number of seniors from this team, but the Trojans will return a battle-tested Strausz as well as running backs Nik Pai and Christian Snipes. Those two and Strausz carried the bulk of the rushing load in the second half, and Pai also caught four passes in the game for 29 yards. Carbajal, who scored Andover’s lone touchdown, also returns.

“I’m proud of the guys,” Dusenbury said. “I’m proud of the season they’ve had, all the work they’ve put in.”

Hays 18, Andover 6

Hays 0;6;6;6—18 

Andover 0;0;0;6—6

H – Kanak 3 run (kick failed)

H – Kanak 35 run (pass failed)

H – Kanak 24 run (kick failed)

A – Carbajal 55 pass from Strausz (pass failed)

RUSHING – Hays: Kanak 25-187, Moroni 13-50, Bah 6-23, Groen 2-7. Andover: Middleton 12-63, Strausz 20-35, Snipes 4-20, Pai 3-11, Klein 1-(-2).

PASSING – Hays: Kanak 0-7-1-0. Andover: Strausz 13-18-0-152.

RECEIVING – Hays: None. Andover: Klein 5-48, Pai 4-29, Rudy 2-15, Carbajal 1-55, Middleton 1-5.