No. 4 Hawks prepared for physical brawl in rematch against South Hardin
District 3 rivals meet Friday at 7 p.m. in postseason 2nd round
JEWELL — Seven opponents attempted to match South Hamilton’s physical prowess during the regular season. Seven opponents failed too.
The one that came closest to going toe-to-toe with the Hawks will be their next opponent though, as fourth-ranked and unbeaten South Hamilton (7-0) will host District 3 rival South Hardin (6-2) in the second round of the postseason at Taylor Field Friday night.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
The first meeting went South Hamilton’s way, 28-6, on Sept. 18. The final score wasn’t particularly close, but Hawks’ head coach Corey Klemp says if you dig deeper then you’ll know that his team had its hands full.
And he doesn’t expect anything to change in the rematch.
“I never imagined a game of this caliber our first time out in the playoffs,” Klemp said. “They’re obviously a team that has got a lot of size and they’ve got some athletes to go with it. So we’re really anticipating a physical football game.”
South Hardin (6-2) advanced to the second round with a 40-15 thumping of Central Springs last Friday. The Tigers have won three straight games by a combined 74 points since back-to-back losses to South Hamilton and Dike-New Hartford (35-13) in Weeks 4 and 5 of the regular season.
South Hamilton, meanwhile, took last week off after it finished the regular season with a 40-14 rout of Aplington-Parkersburg on Oct. 9. Klemp says the Hawks are rested, healed and ready to embark on a postseason journey they hope will last until sometime in mid-November.
“We had a good week last week and (the postseason bye) allowed some kids to get healthier,” he said. “We also worked on cleaning up a few areas, and then this week has been a more normal game-week routine.”
Don’t expect South Hamilton to stray from what got it to this point. The Hawks lead 1A in rushing yards (2,449) and ground touchdowns (34). Halfback Trevor Thompson (1,046 yards) won the District 3 rushing title and ranks fifth in the class, and fellow halfback Brock Galetich (797 yards) sits 13th on the 1A leaderboard. Fullback Lane Swenson (540 yards) can alter a game as well.
South Hamilton punished South Hardin for 349 yards rushing last month. Thompson gouged the Tigers for 174 and two scores, while Galetich churned out 105 and reached the end zone once.
Klemp expects the Tigers to make adjustments defensively in an attempt to slow down his two leading backs. South Hamilton has seen that all season.
“It really does make it interesting with two teams of this quality,” he said. “We know areas where we had success that they’ll be focused on stopping.”
Conversely, South Hamilton will attempt to do a better job of containing South Hardin quarterback Dante Dolash, who completed 11 of 17 passes for 142 yards in the previous meeting. Dolash also had a rushing touchdown, but the Hawks limited South Hardin to just 73 ground yards.
Dolash ranks second in 1A in completions (102) and 14th in passing yards (1,058).
But Klemp says South Hamilton can’t overlook Tigers’ running back Beau Butler, another game-changing runner who has compiled 677 yards and eight TDs on the season.
“I really expect it to be pretty good balance between them throwing and running the ball,” Klemp said. “I expect to see Butler be a big part of their offense.”
Friday’s winner will advance to next week’s third round against an opponent that will be revealed on Saturday.
South Hardin at South Hamilton
What: Class 1A postseason second round.
Where: Taylor Field, Jewell.
Time: 7 p.m.
Records: South Hardin 6-2, South Hamilton 7-0.
Previous Meeting: South Hamilton won, 28-6, on Sept. 18.