Playing smash-mouth football has become the identity of the Class 3A No. 5 Verdigris Cardinals.
Blessed with a pair of bruising running backs in seniors Tanner Smith and J.D. Hanslovan, as well as an aerial attack led by quarterback Dakota Brasher and wide receiver Ryan Hurd, the Cardinals’ offense is the most explosive in Rogers County.
Through six games this season, the Cardinals (5-1 overall, 1-1 District 3A-5) have tallied 255 total points for an average of 43 points per game.
The offensive fireworks can be attributed to the power running game of Smith and Hanslovan, who have combined for 1,804 yards behind a seasoned offensive line that is led by senior Dalton Inman (6-3, 285) and junior Jake Jones (6-3, 300).
Smith comes into Friday’s game against No. 6 Metro Christian with 1,301 yards on 127 carries and 17 touchdowns. He is averaging 10.2 yards per carry.
The Cardinals’ running attack is chewing up 332.3 yards per game.
Hanslovan, meanwhile, isn’t far behind with 46 carries for 503 yards and eight touchdowns.
Though the running game is highly potent and hard to stop, Brasher and the Cardinals’ aerial attack is gaining ground at the midway point of the season.
In six starts as the Cardinals’ first-year quarterback, Brasher has completed 34-of-67 passes for 452 yards and seven touchdowns with only two interceptions.
His favorite targets — Hurd and tight end Chase Bryant — both have eight catches on the season.
Hurd leads with eight receptions for 139 yards and three touchdowns, while Bryant has eight catches for 106 yards and one touchdown. Out of the backfield, Smith has nine receptions for 58 yards.
Note: The Cards’ defense is holding opponents to 14 points per game.