No. 4 Titans stifle Hawks’ offense, hang on for win
Feighner returns kick for TD in district loss
JEWELL — There were a lot of yeah, buts the South Hamilton coaches and players could have thrown out following Friday’s clash with No. 4-ranked South Central Calhoun at Taylor Field.
Yeah, but the Hawks hung close.
Yeah, but the Hawks handled the Titans explosive offense.
Yeah, but the Hawks proved they’re a potentially elite team.
They’re all true, of course, but they meant little to those inside the South Hamilton locker room following a 14-8 loss to the now Class 1A District 2-leading Titans.
And that’s a good thing.
“A loss is a loss,” South Hamilton head coach Corey Klemp said. “This group this year, they’re at the point where they’re not into moral victories. They feel like they’re at a point where they can win these games.
“The kids were really disappointed, but as a coach I was really proud of how hard they played and how far they’ve come. But we’ve got to continue to get better.”
South Central Calhoun (6-0, 2-0) stepped onto the turf averaging 43 points per game and outscored its first five foes by 40 points on average. But South Hamilton (4-2, 1-1) gave the Titans everything they wanted and clung to upset hopes until the final horn.
A physical affair on both sides of the ball, the game played right into the Hawks’ style. But their inability to finish drives at opportune times was ultimately their death knell.
“Yards were hard to come by, but I thought we were effective,” Klemp said. “But we’d have a turnover or something like that, or we’d move the ball and then get behind the sticks … it was the same both ways though. They put together two good drives, but other than that we pretty much held them in check.
“It was a great high school football game, that’s for certain.”
South Hamilton rolled up 210 yards of offense, 130 of them on the ground and 80 from quarterback Cole Berg, who completed 7 of 23 passes.
Sam Lewis rushed for a team-high 57 yards, 31 of them coming on a sizable gain late in the first half. DJ Klonglan collected 29 yards on eight carries, Berg added 23 rushing yards and Trevor Thompson had 18 more.
Brandyn Feighner was Berg’s favorite target on the outside; he reeled in a pair of catches for 29 yards. Feighner was also responsible for the Hawks only touchdown on an 87-yard kickoff return late in the third quarter that pulled the contest back to a one-score game.
“That was a huge play,” Klemp said of the kickoff return. “Brandyn as a returner, both on kickoffs and punts, has been really solid for us all year. He got great blocking from the return team and (Klonglan) had a big block to kind of spring him. Once Brandyn found a seam, he’s got the speed.”
South Central Calhoun struck first on a 1-yard touchdown run by Landon Schleisman that capped an 88-yard drive late in the first quarter. The Titans upped their lead to 14-0 with 3:10 remaining in the third quarter on a 2-yard plunge into the end zone by Brennan Holder. The Titans took over at their own 36 and marched 64 yards on 10 consecutive running plays.
Feighner’s return on the ensuing kickoff gave South Hamilton life over the final quarter of play, but even with the momentum the Hawks were unable to challenge the end zone.
“Offensively I thought we did a lot of great things against a very, very good team,” Klemp said. “Honestly, by the end of the game, you could see the physicality was starting to wear on them.”
South Hamilton’s defense hasn’t allowed more than 15 points in a game this season and Friday’s performance was yet another indication of its strength. It wasn’t a surprise either.
“Our defense played great,” Klemp said. “On both sides of the ball, it solidified a lot on showing our kids where they’re at. It shows the progress we’ve made.”
Lewis collected a team-high nine tackles in the loss. Jeremiah Smith had 71⁄2 stops, one more than Teagan Risetter, and Thompson finished with 41⁄2.
South Central Calhoun would need to lose two of its final three games, one of which is a potential forfeit against Eagle Grove, and South Hamilton would need to win out for the Hawks to claim the district title.
In other words, that ship has probably sailed.
South Hamilton can still reach the playoffs for a second straight season if it wins its final three games and finishes high enough in the RPI. But Klemp said that’s a conversation for another day. For now, the Hawks will concentrate on this week’s road game at Pocahontas Area.
“We’re going to focus on what we can control and that’s winning these next three games and then we’ll see where the chips fall with the RPI,” he said.
SC Calhoun 14, South Hamilton 8
At Taylor Field
SC Calhoun 7 0 7 0 — 14
South Hamilton 0 0 8 0 — 8
SCC — Landon Schleisman 1 run (Zane Neubaum kick), 2:41.
SCC — Brennan Holder 2 run (Neubaum kick), 3:10.
SH — Brandyn Feighner 87 kickoff return (Zeke Balderas run), 2:57.
Rushing — SH: Sam Lewis 13-57, DJ Klonglan 8-29, Cole Berg 4-23, Trevor Thompson 6-18, Zeke Balderas 1-2, Cade Flaugh 1-1.
Passing — SH: Berg 7-23-2 80, Balderas 0-1-0 0.
Receiving — SH: Brandyn Feighner 2-29, Brock Galetich 1-14, Lewis 2-13, Flaugh 1-13, Trevor Meyers 1-11.
Tackles — SH: Lewis 9, Jeremiah Smith 71⁄2, Teagan Risetter 61⁄2, Thompson 41⁄2, Feighner 4, Klonglan 4, Dominic Summers 31⁄2, Galetich 21⁄2, Nathan Wilson 21⁄2, Balderas 2, Cade Balvanz 2, Jacob Kooker 2, Berg 11⁄2, Flaugh 11⁄2.