Hawks’ Week 9 game vs. Eagle Grove in doubt

Due to a lack of players, Eagles will forfeit this week, will take rest of season on week-by-week basis

Senior DJ Klonglan (22) leads South Hamilton in rushing with 299 yards entering Friday’s homecoming game against Madrid. DFJ photo/Tracy Runneberg

JEWELL — South Hamilton’s nine-game football schedule is in serious jeopardy of being reduced to eight games.

On Monday, Eagle Grove announced that it will forfeit its game against Pocahontas Area this week and will take the remaining schedule on a week-by-week basis moving forward. South Hamilton (3-1) and Eagle Grove (0-4) are scheduled to face off in a Class 1A District 2 contest during the final week of the regular season on Oct. 19.

The Iowa High School Athletic Association does not allow schools to forfeit an entire season. It must be done on a week-by-week basis.

Citing a lack of players, particularly upperclassmen, Eagle Grove forfeited mid-game against South Hardin last Friday night. The Eagles have 30 players on their roster, but nearly half are freshmen, and when five went down with injuries against South Hardin, head coach Paul Hansch didn’t feel comfortable subjecting his younger players to further potential injuries.

“It’s extremely disappointing,” Hansch told the Fort Dodge Messenger. “Last week against South Hardin, we were winning going into the second quarter before we had kids get hurt. We had five freshmen and three sophomores out on the field at one time and I just don’t see what that does for you.

“Our coaching staff is concerned about the safety of our players. Some of our freshmen are 120 pounds and I don’t want to put them out there.”

South Hamilton head coach Corey Klemp is hopeful that Eagle Grove will be fully operational by the time Week 9 rolls around, but he also understands the circumstances.

“It’s a tough spot for them to be in and I feel for them,” Klemp said. “We’ve been steady here, but there are years where injuries pile up and that’s what they’re facing.”

Eagle Grove went 6-3 a season ago and was in contention for a spot in the playoffs until a Week 9 loss to South Hamilton, 21-7. The Eagles graduated 13 players off that team, including all 627 of their passing yards and 1,758 of their 1,782 rushing yards.

The possibility of being a free agent in Week 9 is something South Hamilton will worry about down the road, Klemp says. The Hawks open district play against Madrid (0-4) on homecoming in Jewell Friday night.

“We’re focused on Madrid and that’s all we’re really concerned about right now,” Klemp said. “But if we were to look ahead, (the Eagle Grove game) is a game we’re still hopeful of having. But if it did come to that (an Eagle Grove forfeit), we’d probably do an intrasquad scrimmage on that Friday night just to keep a routine and to maybe get our kids on our field one last time.”

Should South Hamilton make the playoffs for a second consecutive season, a Week 9 forfeit would mean a two-week layoff prior to the postseason. Klemp says that may or may not be a bad thing.

“If we’re fortunate enough to be in that situation, maybe it comes when we’re banged up and then it becomes a good thing,” he said. “But we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”

With the advent of the RPI and all nine regular season games included in the playoff structure, Klemp knows there’s no room for slip-ups.

Madrid enters district play allowing 57 points per game and has been outscored by 132 points. South Hamilton is coming off a 36-0 dismantling of Manson-Northwest Webster last Friday night and boasts the fifth-ranked defense in 1A, allowing just 10 points per game.