Hawks eliminated from playoff contention by SCC

JEWELL – South Hamilton suffered through its own version of Black Friday.

Losing the game hurt. Realizing the playoffs were no longer a possibility was worse. And seeing a teammate go down with a devastating injury was just the final twist of the knife on easily the most miserable evening this season.

In an all-or-nothing fight for the fourth and final playoff spot in Class 1A District 7, South Central Calhoun (5-3, 3-2) scored the winning touchdown with 1:57 remaining on a 4-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-four by do-everything quarterback Derrick Henkenius to nudge the Hawks out of contention, 14-8, at Taylor Field.

South Hamilton’s own quarterback, sophomore Collin Hill, was lost for the game and season on the first series of the third quarter when he suffered a broken right leg as he was tackled. One of the state’s top-rated basketball players in the Class of 2017, Hill will face a four-month recovery, according to Hawks’ head football coach T.J. Schaefer, which will put the entire hoops season in jeopardy.

“This was a tough one to take for all of the kids,” Schaefer said, referring to the loss and injury to Hill. “Everyone is feeling for Collin right now. He’s a great kid and you hate to see something like this happen to him. It’s just a pretty rough weekend for everyone.”

Schaefer’s club was already playing short-handed, as senior halfback and leading rusher Andy Cook was limited to just five carries as he continued to be hampered by a leg injury. South Hamilton’s running game had trouble moving the ball in a first half that saw it fall behind 7-0.

“Losing our quarterback and not having Andy, that really hurt us,” Schaefer said. “Collin was about 90 percent of the offensive game plan in the second half, so that was a pretty big setback for the kids.”

Blake Barquist took over under center and did an admirable job. He hit Sam Waid on an 18-yard completion on third-and-four that kept a third-quarter drive alive, and it ended with Waid toppling over the goal line from 1 yard out. JD Rader sprinted into the end zone with the two-point conversion to give the Hawks an 8-7 advantage.

South Hamilton (4-4, 2-3) got one final chance to move down the field after Henkenius’s go-ahead score, but Barquist was intercepted by Nick Robinson. He completed 3 of 4 passes for 28 yards in place of Hill.

“My hat’s off to Blake Barquist,” Schaefer said. “He played well for us coming in after Collin got hurt.”

Henkenius accounted for 182 of the Titans’ 200 yards of offense. He rushed for 99 yards and passed for 82; he was picked off twice by Logan Klemp and Colton Griffin.

Henkenius scored the game’s first TD on a 15-yard run late in the first quarter.

“The defense played outstanding,” Schaefer said. “They played above and beyond expectations.”

Waid and fellow linebacker Hunter Griffin combined for nine tackles; Waid and Trevor Swenson both made two tackles for loss.

Waid also led the offense from his fullback position with 84 rushing yards on 22 carries and 34 receiving yards on four catches. South Hamilton amassed 207 yards of total offense.

The Hawks failed to capitalize on three scoring opportunities from inside the Titans’ 20-yard line in the first half. A completed pass put them at the 2 on the first drive of a game, but a penalty brought the play back and the drive stalled from there.

“We had our chances, we just didn’t execute well enough,” Schaefer said.

South Hamilton’s four losses this season are by 23 points to teams that are a combined 22-10. The three district losses are to foes that are 18-6.

The already brutal schedule gets even tougher on Friday when the Hawks end their season in Fort Dodge against third-ranked St. Edmond (8-0, 5-0) – the winner of 20 consecutive regular season games.

“It’s just playing for pride at this point,” Schaefer said.