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Hawks favored, but won’t take Tigers lightly

South Hamilton quarterback Freddie Lewis (2) rolls out of the pocket against Roland-Story last Friday. The Hawks will travel to Madrid this evening to take on the Tigers. DFJ photo/Angela Hewitt

JEWELL — Respect everyone, but fear no one — that’s how the South Hamilton football team enters each week.

The opponent doesn’t matter. Head coach Corey Klemp preaches precision and focus whether the Hawks are facing a returning state qualifier or a team that hasn’t won a game.

Enter Madrid, a longtime small-school power that has fallen on lean times in recent years. The Tigers (0-1) are just 2-17 in their last 19 games, but they’ll look to jumpstart their season this evening when they host South Hamilton (1-0) at 7 p.m.

Madrid was thumped by Woodward-Granger, 49-6, last Friday. South Hamilton opened its season with a 42-8 rout of Roland-Story.

The Hawks are favored, Klemp knows it and so do his players. If South Hamilton plays well, things should go its way.

But don’t think for a second that South Hamilton is looking ahead to a Week 3 showdown at third-ranked Dike-New Hartford.

“I’m not trying to be cliche, but every week is the most important week,” Klemp said. “It’s the game that’s in front of you, and with COVID, you don’t know if it’s going to be your last game or not.”

South Hamilton’s season opener was impressive, as it rushed for 416 yards and averaged 7.2 yards per carry against the Norsemen. Trevor Thompson (164 yards) and Brock Galetich (147 yards) both reached triple digits on the ground, and Lane Swenson (80 yards) wasn’t far behind.

A repeat performance would suit Klemp just fine.

“I was happy with how physical we were,” he said. “Our line got off the ball really well and attacked the line of scrimmage, and our backfield ran the ball aggressively, which is our style.

“We are who we are. We’re going to be physical.”

South Hamilton gashed Madrid for 306 yards rushing in a 28-6 win a season ago. But Klemp would also like to see the Hawks find success through the air, something that wasn’t needed last week.

“As successful as we were Week 1 running the ball, we know we’re going to have to be more diversified,” Klemp said. “That’s going to be more of a focus going forward.”

Madrid churned out 237 yards against Woodward-Granger. Running back Connor Williams picked up 69 of them on the ground.

“Last year I was really impressed with how hard their kids played,” Klemp said of Madrid. “And based on our history with them, they’ve got some understanding of our offense and that makes it a little tougher. Knowing the program they have, this will be a game that we’ll have to go out and earn.”

SOUTH HAMILTON AT MADRID

Where: Madrid.

Time: 7 p.m.

Records: South Hamilton 1-0, Madrid 0-1.

Last year: South Hamilton beat Madrid 28-6.

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