By Travis Whitton
For The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. — Anderson Preparatory Academy had its back against the wall from the get-go against Heritage Christian on Friday, and the Eagles took full advantage with a 61-6 win on the Jets’ home field.
Anderson Prep had to sit several of its players for the first half because of what coach Joe Kwisz described as a “variety of reasons.” To make matters worse the Jets’ leading rusher, D’Andre Patterson, went out early in the game with an apparent leg injury.
Even with the odds stacked against them, the Jets (0-3) were able to keep it close for the first eight minutes. After a Jackson West 60-yard punt return for a touchdown for Heritage Christian, APA got an interception by Jaime Rodriguez, and Caston McConnell promptly marched in for a 7-yard touchdown run.
Despite the fact that they couldn’t convert the 2-point conversion, the Jets trailed just 7-6 with 4:07 left in the opening quarter. The Eagles rattled off the next 55 points en route to the lopsided victory.
Anderson Prep struggled on special teams giving up two punt returns for scores as Andy Hunt took a 69-yarder back for a score in the second quarter.
“We didn’t show a whole lot of hustle on those two punts,” said Jets coach Joe Kwisz. “We paid for it dearly, two punt returns, that’s unheard of – it just can’t happen.”
Kwisz said he felt like his kids played hard despite what the scoreboard showed at the end.
“The guys, they fought until the end. I mean we played hard for the most part, guys didn’t give up,” he said. “We had a couple of kids go down with injuries. We’re in a tough spot right now. We’re going to play through it. We’re going to be OK.”
Kwisz felt like Heritage Christian played a classy game and looks forward to going to the Eagles’ place next season.
“They’re a very classy school,” he said. “Great game tonight, a lot of sportsmanship. We look forward to going to their place next year and getting one against them on the turf, maybe.”
The Jets coach said that he spoke to his team about playing all out on every play after the game. He said that is something his kids struggle with and one of the struggles of having a young team.
“The biggest thing is hustling every play,” he said. “We’re still trying to find that inner strength, and especially in practice, just to be at game speed. The two punt returns are an exact example of what we face in practice at times.”
Things don’t get any easier for Anderson Prep as it travels to Jay County to take on a Class 4A team next Friday.
Heritage Christian got 198 yards passing and three touchdowns from sophomore quarterback Jackson Heath, who rushed for another score. Junior Andy Hunt had 152 yards receiving and two touchdown receptions.
Hunt also had one of the punt returns for a score.