Bryant High School Athletics



Conor Craig apologized during a postgame interview Friday night. His voice was hoarse, and he knew that made him a little difficult to understand. It’s understandable why the Hutchinson High senior quarterback had lost his voice. He hadn’t played football in two years because of injury, and he was a little jacked up for his return against Olathe East at Gowans Stadium. “I was just trying to get the guys to execute and have fun,” Craig said about why he had lost his voice. Craig’s return admittedly wasn’t picturesque, but it was fairly impressive considering how long it had been since he last played. Craig scored a pair of first-quarter touchdowns, threw for another and looked dazzling at times running the ball as the Salthawks blew out Olathe East 41-13. Craig hadn’t played football since his sophomore year. But that season didn’t last long, as he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the first half of the first game. Friday, Craig showed he could take a hit – several actually. And he showed he could get the Salthawks into the end zone, as he had TD runs of 24 and 14 yards. The 24-yard run featured Craig’s shiftiness and quick burst of speed. “That felt great,” Craig said. “I thought I’d get down before the end zone, but my legs carried me in there. It just felt great being back out here. All the credit goes to the big guys up front, and a lot to the other guys like Tracy (Harris), Joesiah (Galindo) and Brody (Smith).” The Salthawks did have plenty of other offensive stars. Harris ran nine times for 119 yards and a touchdown, Galindo rushed for 80 yards, and Smith scored a pair of touchdowns. “That’s why we’ve got to stay balanced, because we want to use multiple backs,” Hutchinson coach Ryan Cornelsen said. “That’s our offense now, and we’ve got to get better each week.” Galindo showed he could be the bruising-type runner that gets the tough yards, while Harris could be the change of pace, blink-and-he’s-gone runner. Smith is something of a combination of the two. “We’ve been practicing hard and trying to execute,” Harris said. “That’s what we have to do to get better every week. Really, it’s just executing. I may have missed a couple blocks, but we keep running hard, even when we mess up.” The win wasn’t perfect by any means. The Salthawks fumbled three times, and three other times couldn’t score after moving into Olathe East territory. But with the way the defense played, the offense could afford a handful of mishaps. Olathe East had just two total first downs midway through the fourth quarter, and the Salthawks forced four turnovers. Olathe East mustered just 148 yards of offense. “Our defense had a good game plan and did a good job executing,” Cornelsen said. “They played downhill and played well.” THE QUICK HIT KEY STAT: Hutchinson’s defense held Olathe East to seven first downs, but five of those came in the final 6:59 after Hutchinson led 41-0 and began emptying the bench. THE TURNING POINT: Already leading 14-0 late in the first quarter, Hutchinson forced its third fumble and recovered at the Olathe East 20-yard line. Seven plays later, Brody Smith scored from a yard out. The rout was on. PLAYER OF THE GAME: Hutchinson senior quarterback Conor Craig, playing his first game in two years, showed what kind of effect he could have on this team. He ran 10 times for 104 yards and two touchdowns, and he also had a touchdown pass to Wyatt Akins. Of Craig’s five incomplete passes, he barely missed on four of them. HE SAID IT: “He did a good job of managing the offense. He had a few miscues, but overall, he played well and showed what he’s capable of.” – Hutchinson coach Ryan Cornelsen on Craig. UP NEXT: Olathe East (0-1) will take on Olathe Northwest, while Hutchinson (1-0) makes the short trip east to Newton. Photo Credits: Brad Hallier