For the first time in over a decade, the Hutchinson High School football team is 4-0.


Behind 208 rushing yards from Alec McCuan, 166 total yards from Noah Khokhar and 11 tackles from Jack Hawver, the Salthawks defeated Newton 54-42 on Friday night during homecoming at Gowans Stadium.


Hutchinson has not started a season 4-0 since 2009. Salthawks coach Mike Vernon knows how much the community rallies around the athletic department, especially the football program.


"The community loves football and the community loves their sports," Vernon said. "It’s a great feeling to be able to give them this."


Newton drops to 0-4 on the season, but the Railers are better than their record would indicate. Newton has competitive losses to Andover Central, Derby, Maize and now Hutchinson.


"The reality of the situation is we have two choices: we can feel sorry for ourselves or we can get better," Newton coach Chris Jaax said. "I told the kids we’re going to get better."


The two teams put up a combined 96 points and 869 total yards.


Hutchinson scored 21 points in each of its first two games, then scored 34 points in last week’s thrilling win over Maize South.


On Friday night, the Salthawks exploded for a season-high 54 points, including 352 rushing yards.


"We were breaking in some younger guys at the start of the season, and now we’re a bit more cohesive," Vernon said. "We’ve got some weapons on the outside that prevents teams from crowding us in the box like they’ve done in the past.


"We’re not a one-dimensional team like we have been."


Hutchinson senior running back Alec McCuan surpassed the 200-yard rushing mark for the second straight week. After a 292-yard performance last week, McCuan rushed for 208 yards and four touchdowns against Newton.


Speedy sophomore Noah Khokhar is a perfect complement back to McCuan. Khokhar rushed for 106 yards and a touchdown on only seven attempts, while also hauling in 60 receiving yards and a touchdown on just two catches.


Before the season started, Khokhar was in competition with senior Myles Thompson for the starting quarterback job. When the coaching staff decided to go with Thompson, they knew they needed to find ways to keep Khokhar involved.


"He’s a great athlete. There’s no way we could go without getting Khokhar on the field somewhere," Vernon said. "What I like about Khokhar is he’s a jack of all trades, and he’s a smart kid. He does great in filling the roles we put him in."


On the defensive side of the ball, senior linebacker Jack Hawver had a team-high 11 tackles to go along with one sack, one tackle for loss, and a recovered fumble in the end zone for a touchdown.


Hawver was an all-state linebacker last season, and one of Vernon’s favorite players.


"Jack is one of those kids that I’m probably going to remember for my life," Vernon said. "He’s become sort of a son, and I’m super proud of him. He’s taken some lumps over the years and he’s had to play since he was a puppy, and I’m just very proud of him."


Newton senior quarterback Ben Schmidt completed 25 of his 36 passes for 381 yards and four touchdowns. His favorite target was senior Peyton Maxwell, who finished with 10 catches for 162 yards and two scores.


A 28-yard touchdown from Schmidt to Maxwell on the opening drive gave Newton a 7-0 lead.


Hutchinson answered right back when Khokhar broke free from 41 yards out to tie the game at seven midway through the first.


With a handful of seconds remaining in the first quarter, Newton’s Kenyon Forest scored a 19-yard touchdown on a play where he rolled on top of a Hutchinson defender. The Salthawks defense thought they made the tackle, but the referees ruled Forest was never down, and he took ball into the end zone against a confused defense.


Hutchinson again responded on its next drive, as McCuan took a handoff and scored from two yards out on a drive that was kept alive thanks to a roughing the punter penalty on fourth down.


On the first play of Newton’s next drive, Schmidt lost control of the ball backed up in his own territory, and fumbled the ball in the end zone. Hawver was there to fall on the ball and give the Salthawks a 21-14 lead.


Newton was able to put a halt to the sudden swing of momentum, marching down the field and scoring on a one-yard quarterback keeper with 13 seconds left in the half to tie the game at 21.


Hutchinson broke the tie midway through the third when Thompson used his 6-7 frame to sneak the ball into the end zone from one yard out.


Hutchinson defensive back Nolyn Cunningham picked off Schmidt on the ensuing drive and took the ball all the way to the Newton 12 yard line. A few plays later, McCuan scored from seven yards out to extend the Salthawk lead to 33-21.


A hectic fourth quarter began with a 34-yard touchdown from Schmidt to Xzavion Martin to bring the Railers to within five.


However, Hutchinson responded when Thompson - who attempted three passes the entire game - connected on a 50-yard touchdown down the middle of the field to an open Khokhar for a touchdown.


The Salthawks scored 54 seconds later after the defense forced a turnover on downs and McCuan capitalized on a 22-yard touchdown run.


Down by three scores late in the fourth, Newton did not quit, and answered back with a one-yard touchdown run from Schmidt. After a failed onside kick attempt by Newton, McCuan scored a 50-yard rushing touchdown on Hutchinson’s first play of the drive.


Schmidt connected with Maxwell on a 75-yard passing touchdown to make it a 12-point game with 2:35 remaining, but Hutchinson closed the game out from there.


Newton scored a season-high 42 points on Friday - half of which came in the fourth quarter.


"Our kids are tough and resilient," Jaax said. "We just have to find a way to not make mistakes."


The schedule does not get any easier for Newton, who hosts Maize South next Friday.


"They’re good, so we have to get better," Jaax said.


All eyes will be on Hutchinson next week when the Salthawks travel to the two-time defending 6A state champion Derby Panthers. Derby is 2-1 on the season, but due to a recent COVID-19 outbreak, the Panthers had their most recent game against Salina South cancelled.


It is unclear whether or not Hutchinson and Derby will be able to play as scheduled.


"Hopefully we get to play football again, and we can’t wait to do that," Vernon said.