By RICK PETERSON
In late May Jensen Schrickel's legs powered him to three state track and field medals, including a state championship.
On Friday night Schrickel's legs carried the Hayden sophomore to two long touchdown returns over the first 1:22 and four TDs on the night as the Wildcats improved to a 3-0 with a 55-34 win over Rossville at Hayden.
Schrickel, a 5-foot-9, 145-pounder, set the tone for the night when he took the opening kickoff and sped 74 yards for a touchdown. Schrickel also tacked on the extra point to put Hayden in front 7-0 over the two-time defending Class 2A state champs just 10 seconds into the game.
Hayden forced Rossville to punt on its opening possession and Schrickel was off and running again, taking the punt 67 yard to the end zone. Schrickel's extra point gave the Wildcats a 14-0 advantage at the10:38 mark of the opening quarter.
"It was really good blocking and they just opened up really well,'' Schrickel said of the twin returns.
Schrickel scored a third touchdown on a 48-yard pass play from sophomore Jett Wahlmeier and added a fourth TD on a 12-yard reverse. He was seven of eight on extra point kicks, finishing the night with 31 points, while also playing defense for the Wildcats.
"I think offense is my favorite but they're all really fun though,'' Schrickel said. "I think we're playing really well. There's still a lot of room to improve but I think we're doing really well.''
Hayden coach Bill Arnold said Schrickel is a standout for the Wildcats in everything he does.
"He's a great competitor and obviously God's given him some talent along with it,'' Arnold said. "His emotions never change. He's never too high or too low. He's just Steady Eddie out there and I'm happy for any success he has out here because he's great individual to coach.''
Senior JC Cummings added to Hayden's big-play first quarter, busting loose for a 98-yard touchdown gallop to put the Wildcats up, 21-0.
Rossville, which fell to 1-2 on the year, got on the board with 22 seconds left in the quarter on a 30-yard TD pass from junior quarterback Camden Horak to senior Aryon Klesath (Cedric Leistenchneider kick) before the two teams traded second-quarter touchdowns to leave the Wildcats with a 28-14 halftime advantage.
Junior Finn Dunshee gave Hayden a 28-7 advantage with a 46-yard TD run but Rossville answered with a 2-yard run from senior Kade Perine to get the Bulldawgs back within 14 points at the half.
Rossville made it a one possession game with a 65-yard scoring drive to open the second half, capping the drive with a 2-yard Horak run, but Hayden needed just two plays to strike back with Wahlmeier connecting with Schrickel for the long TD.
Senior Braydn Rose scored from 2 yards out to give Hayden a commanding 42-21 advantage with 5:15 left in the third quarter.
Rossville added an 8-yard TD pass from Horak to senior Trenton Barker and a 4-yard Horak run while Hayden's final two scores came on Schrickel's reverse and a 20-yard run from Dunshee.
Rosssville coach Derick Hammes said he was pleased with his team's effort against the Wildcats, but said that Hayden's big plays -- five TDs of 46 or more yards -- were the deciding factor.
"That was just my message, that's what we just talked about,'' Hammes said. "That's kind of been the thorn in our side to the early point of the season is we've given up too many big plays and unfortunately we add the kicking game part of it into that tonight as well and we weren't good early at all at that.
"But the kids did play hard and Hayden's really good, they are really good and hats off to them because they just rolled their sleeves up and they played really well tonight.''
Cummings rushed for 132 yards on 11 carries and Dunshee added 83 yards on seven attempts while Wahlmeier went 6 of 10 passing for 128 yards.
Horak rushed for a game-high 180 yards on 32 carries and he passed for 123 yards on an 11 of 24 night.
"He gives great effort and he's a two-way player and he cares,'' Hammes said. "I'm proud of him just like all the other kids that gave a great effort tonight.''
Both teams will open district play next Friday, with Hayden hosting Jefferson West in a 3A district contest and Rossville playing its home opener against Atchison County in a 2A district game.
HAYDEN 55, ROSSVILLE 34
Rossville (1-2) 7 7 14 6 -- 34
Hayden (3-0) 21 7 14 13 -- 55
Hayden -- Schrickel 74 kickoff return (Schrickel kick)
Hayden -- Schrickel 67 punt return (Schrickel kick)
Hayden -- Cummings 98 run (Schrickel kick)
Rossville -- Klesath 30 pass rom C. Horak (Leistenschneider kick)
Hayden -- Dunshee 46 run (Schrickel kick)
Rossville -- Perine 2 run (Leistenschneider kick)
Rossville -- C. Horak 2 run (Leistenschneider kick)
Hayden -- Schrickel 48 pass from Wahlmeier (Schrickel kick)
Hayden -- Rose 2 run (Schrickel kick)
Rossville -- Barker 8 pass from C. Horak (Leistenschneider kick)
Hayden -- Schrickel 12 run (kick failed)
Hayden -- Dunshee 20 run (Schrickel kick)
Rossville -- C. Horak 4 run (kick blocked)
Rushing -- Rossville: C. Horak 32-180, Perine 16-38, Hensley 6-30, Barker 1-(minus)-2. Hayden: Cummings 11-132, Dunshee 7-83, Wahlmeier 2-12, Schrickel 1-12, Rose 5-7, Team 2-(minus)-13.
Passing -- Rossville: C. Horak 11-24-1, 123 yards. Hayden: Wahlmeier 6-10-0, 128.
Receiving -- Rossville: Barker 6-75, Klesath 2-39, Perine 2-9, Donovan 1-3. Hayden: Schrickel 3-56, Dunshee 1-37, McGibboney 1-24, Heinen 1-11.
Punting -- Rossville: Bush 4-34.5. Hayden: Team 3-22.7.