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No. 4 Hawks look to make history against A-P this evening

South Hamilton fullback Lane Swenson races downfield looking for someone to block during a game earlier this season. DFJ photo/Angela Hewitt

JEWELL — It all comes down to this, one win for history. The opponent — one of Iowa’s most storied programs.

Fourth-ranked (Class 1A) South Hamilton will attempt to claim the school’s first unbeaten regular season this evening when it welcomes Aplington-Parkersburg to Taylor Field for the 7 p.m. Homecoming kickoff.

From unranked at the beginning of the season to a team that is now believed to be one of the 1A powerhouses, South Hamilton has motored through the regular season without a hiccup. And yet head coach Corey Klemp has remained subdued, focused on the next task at hand, and he believes this final regular season task will indeed be a chore.

A-P (2-4, 2-2 District 3) isn’t what it was under Hall of Fame head coach Ed Thomas, who was tragically killed by a former player on June 24, 2009. Thomas led Parkersburg and then A-P to 292 victories, six state championship game appearances and two state titles.

But the legacy of Thomas remains with the Falcons. The tradition, the expectations, they’re still present. In fact, it’s the same type of mentality that Klemp tries to instill in his players every single day.

“Knowing the culture of football in the state of Iowa, Aplington-Parkersburg is a big part of that,” Klemp said. “It’s a very storied program and a very proud program. That’s something we’re slowly trying to build here at South Hamilton with that culture where you’re not just playing for you, but you’re playing for those classes that played before you and the classes that will come after you. That’s what A-P has had in place for decades.”

South Hamilton (6-0, 4-0 District 3) knows what’s on the line this evening, but Klemp refuses to get caught up in what could, or should happen. There will be time for that afterward if the Hawks play up to their abilities.

“Honestly, it’s really about winning this game,” Klemp said. “Whatever comes with that, the district title or undefeated and all that stuff, it just adds to the storyline. We want to go into the postseason on a roll and not on a rebound.”

The Hawks clinched the district title, their first since 1993, with last week’s 52-7 thumping of East Marshall. But they’ve never — seriously, never — claimed a district crown outright, so there is plenty still to accomplish this evening.

To do that, South Hamilton will have to handle perhaps the most diverse offense it’s faced this season. A-P leads District 3 in total offense (2,299 yards), just ahead of the Hawks (2,287 yards), and is also No. 1 through the air with quarterback Owen Thomas (63 of 119, 956 yards). Running back Chase Verrett (646 yards) is no slouch on the ground either.

“It definitely creates some challenges for us, but one that I think our guys will be ready for,” Klemp said. “(Verrett) is a shifty runner, he looks good at finding seams and he has pretty good vision. Their quarterback is a little bit bigger and he throws the ball well.”

South Hamilton’s defense has been more than up to the task all season. It allows less than a touchdown per game and ranks No. 2 in the class.

Offensively, the Hawks will surpass 2,000 yards rushing on the season this evening; they enter with 1,986. Halfback Trevor Thompson (888 yards) could surpass the 1,000-yard mark with a solid performance.

Win or lose, South Hamilton should receive a first-round bye for the postseason, which will get started next Friday.

Tonight

Aplington-Parkersburg at South Hamilton

Where: Taylor Field, Jewell.

Time: 7 p.m.

Records: A-P 2-4, 2-2 District 3; South Hamilton 6-0, 4-0 District 3.

Last year: Did not meet.

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