Surprised by the Hawks? You shouldn’t be

A?three-year vision by Klemp has SH in playoff picture

South Hamilton wide receiver Cole Berg (23) fights for extra yards against Manson-Northwest Webster earlier this season. The Hawks will host Ogden on Friday at 7 p.m. DFJ photo/Tracy Runneberg

JEWELL — Sitting in second place in Class 1A District 6 with a clear path to the playoffs if it keeps winning, the South Hamilton football team has been a pleasant surprise to some through six weeks of the season.

Just don’t lump Hawks’ head coach Corey Klemp into that group.

“I’ll be honest, this was in my vision three yeas ago,” Klemp said in the lead up to Friday’s homecoming date with Ogden at Taylor Field. “There were times where you questioned if we were really going to get there, but we thought this would be the prize coming out of it.”

South Hamilton battled through 1-7 and 4-5 seasons in 2015 and 2016, but Klemp says he pointed towards this season as the Hawks’ chance to turn it around.

So far, so good.

South Hamilton quarterback Marco Balderas picks up yards on a scramble against Madrid last Friday. The Hawks will be at home to take on Ogden tomorrow night at 7 p.m. DFJ photo/Tracy Runneberg

“This is where I saw these kids years ago when we went through some tough times,” he said. “It does come down to the little things like how they’ve matured. Although that was expected.”

Following back-to-back victories over traditional powers Panorama and Madrid, South Hamilton (5-1, 3-1) controls its own destiny moving forward. At 8-1 over their last nine games dating back to last season, the Hawks will be in the playoffs for the first time since 2013 if they can take care of their last three contests.

But Ogden (2-4, 1-3) will present challenges that South Hamilton cannot overlook. The Bulldogs also own a victory over Madrid and they possess the No. 2 passing offense in the district.

Ogden quarterback Sam Christensen, just a sophomore, completes 43.5 percent of his passes out of the spread and the result is 1,231 yards and 11 touchdowns.

This won’t be the first time South Hamilton has faced a spread system, but the Bulldogs will apply plenty of pressure with four-receiver sets.

“They’re a good spread team, so there will be challenges,” Klemp said. “The quarterback is good, and he’s a pretty good runner as well. We hope to get some pressure and force them into some quicker reads, and coverage will also be important.”

Outside of its 42-0 loss to second-ranked and district leader Van Meter, South Hamilton has played stingy defense. In its five wins, opponents have averaged just 14.6 points per game.

Hawks’ all-state linebacker Logan Klemp ranks fourth in the district in total tackles with 501⁄2, and his four sacks are the second most.

South Hamilton’s best defense will be keeping its run-heavy offense on the field. Logan Klemp averages eight yards per carry and has churned out 640 yards and seven touchdowns in all. Throw in speedy running back DJ Klonglan (411 yards, 8.4 yards per carry, five TD’s) and powerful fullback Grant Evans (246 yards, 4.0 yards per carry, 2 TD’s) and the Hawks have all the components necessary to control time of possession.

A big key to the Hawks’ ground success that gets overlooked has been the continued improvement on the offensive line. South Hamilton has had at least one 100-yard rusher in four of its six games and twice it’s had two runners surpass the century mark in the same game.

“(The offensive line) has certainly developed and the coaches have done a great job with them,” Coach Klemp said. “It feels like we’re showing improvements in a lot of areas from week to week … we’re starting to put together different pieces of the puzzle.”

Class 1A District 6

Team Dist Over

Van Meter 4-0 6-0

South Hamilton 3-1 5-1

Manson-NWW 2-2 3-3

Eagle Grove 2-2 4-2

Madrid 2-2 2-4

Panorama 1-3 3-3

W. Cen. Valley 1-3 2-4

Ogden 1-3 2-4

Week 7 Games

Ogden at South  Hamilton

Van Meter at West Central Valley

Madrid at Eagle Grove

Panorama at Manson-NW Webster

Week 8 Games

South Hamilton at West Central Valley

Panorama at Van Meter

Eagle Grove at Ogden

Manson-NW Webster at Madrid

Week 9 Games

Eagle Grove at South Hamilton

Madrid at Van Meter

Ogden at Manson-NW Webster

West Central Valley at Panorama