By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor
Haskell coach Greg Wilson knows what he’s up against.
Vian coach Brandon Tyler knows the risk of not keeping him there.
Wilson’s Haymakers (7-3) face one of the tallest orders of this week’s opening round of the prep football postseason. Tyler’s Wolverines (10-0), the top-ranked team in Class 2A in the Associated Press poll, await them in Vian on Friday.
Vian has not only been perfect this season, but has mauled the opposition, totaling 624 points (second statewide to fellow 2A Frederick’s 643) while allowing a mere 23 (best among 11-man teams and second to Class C Tipton’s 8 in 8-man).
That’s a strong sign Haskell’s first postseason appearance since 2004 may be a short one.
“That’s a football community with great coaching and tradition. It’s been a football community dating back to when I played (at Haskell) in the late 80s,” Wilson said. It’s our goal to get our expectations to where Vian’s is and to do that I think we have to put together successful seasons for two, three, four years to talk on those terms,” Wilson said.
For now, Tyler sees Haskell on his team’s heels, sort of.
“Not to take anything away from Hartshorne but I think Haskell, had they been in our district, might have been the team we would have had to beat to win it,” Tyler said. “I think they are a little more versatile than Hartshorne and I’m impressed with that quarterback.”
Haskell’s quarterback is Alex Wheeland, a dual threat with 1,156 rushing yards and 778 yards passing. Behind him in the backfield, Jordan Presley has 870 yards
“They’ve got good athletes all over the board. We’ve got some good athletes,” Wilson said. “I look at a kid like Rowdy (Simon, the running back/linebacker) and I think we’ve got one that’s comparable in (linebacker) Britt Williams. They’re close to the same build, they work hard and they’re athletic.
“But what they’ve built, there’s really no place on the field you can call a weak link and something you can go exploit.”
Williams looks at Simon and the rest of the Wolverines and is surprised by one thing.
“Watching them on film, they’re a lot faster than I thought they would be,” he said. “I just thought they were big and strong and although I knew they were fast, it’s more than I thought.”
Nor does he see something to exploit.
“You might find a play here or there that they didn’t do something right on and you might be able to capitalize on that if it happens in a game,” Williams said.
“But we know what we’re up against. No one expects us to win. We’ll play like we have nothing to lose. We don’t. We haven’t made the playoffs since 2004. They haven’t had a ball game all year. I hope we can give them one.”
Tyler and company would like simply to keep rolling but more than that, avoid the upset bug’s bite.
“It could happen and that’s something we’ve talked about, that there’s always someone out there that gets knocked off the first week that no one thought would,” Tyler said. “And if you’re not prepared, well, there’s no time to go back and fix your mistakes on Monday because you’ll be off to basketball or wrestling.”