By JASON GORDON
If the way the 2012 football season started for Hays is any indication of what’s to come, it could be a very exciting year for Rebel fans.
Granger Studdard returned the opening kickoff of the season for Hays 74 yards for a touchdown and the Rebs rolled to an easy 57-20 win over San Antonio Burbank Saturday at the SAISD Sports Complex.
“That’s every team’s dream, to score on the first play of the season,” Hays quarterback Caleb Kimbro said.
Kimbro scored on a 10-yard run, and threw a 55-yard touchdown pass to Jaxson Schaubhut and a 28-yard scoring strike to Shawn Leerssen, and the Rebels (1-0) led 36-6 after one quarter of play.
Schaubhut added touchdown runs of 35 and 5 yards before halftime, and Hays head coach Blake Feldt was able to pull most of his starters with six minutes left in the second quarter.
Kimbro’s touchdown run came after a nifty fake handoff with 10 minutes left in the first quarter. He weaved his way into the end zone for the Rebels’ second scoring play.
After a Burbank punt, Schaubhut broke free and had clear sailing into the right side of the end zone for a 35-yard touchdown scamper.
Hays actually had a little trouble on its next drive, but Kimbro bailed them out on fourth-and-7, finding Leerssen all alone in the middle of the field for a 28-yard touchdown pass.
Burbank’s only highlight of the first half came immediately afterward when Daniel Tello returned the ensuing kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown, but Hays answered on the first play of its next drive when Kimbro hit Schaubhut with a 55-yard touchdown pass.
“Jaxson being healthy really changes our team,” Kimbro said of Hays’ senior running back who was hampered all season with injuries last year. “He gives us an extra gear on offense.”
The Rebel defense was extremely impressive as well, with Kyle Cox, Devin Jennings and Colin Hubert leading the way with two sacks apiece. Cox added a fumble recovery to set up one Hays score, and Jennings picked off a pass that led to another Rebel touchdown.
Burbank (0-1) was held to minus-11 total yards in the first half and only 71 total yards for the game.
“I think we’re going to be capable of performances like this all year,” said Hays cornerback Christian Rodriguez. “We’re better than we were last season, and we were pretty good then. There’s going to be a lot more to come.”
The second half started out just like the first half did for Hays. Since Burbank won the toss and chose to go on defense in the first half, the Rebels received the second half kickoff as well.
Luke Park gathered the ball at the 18-yard line and ran away from the would-be Burbank defenders 82 yards for another Hays kickoff return for a touchdown, and the Rebs led 50-7.
After Hays jumped to such a commanding lead, the game was played with a running clock at times in the second half to humanely hasten the contest.
“I was really pleased with the way our first teamers came out and executed our game plan,” said Hays head coach Blake Feldt. “We also were able to get a lot of our backups a lot of snaps and that’s always a nice thing.”
Kimbro finished with 170 yards passing for the Rebels and Schaubhut had 120 yards from scrimmage for Hays. Marco Solis came off the bench and rushed for 95 yards for the Rebs.
Hays will return home to host Anderson next Friday night. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.