Hawks refuse to use injuries as an excuse leading into road game
JEWELL — Corey Klemp attempts to sidestep the word whenever it’s mentioned. They’re part of the game, there’s nothing he can do about them and, besides, he’s not the type of football coach who likes to say anything that resembles an excuse.
Still, they’ve been an issue for South Hamilton so far this season. A big issue, actually.
What word that might as well be of the four-letter variety as far as South Hamilton is concerned are we talking about?
Heading into tonight’s Class 1A District 2 contest against Woodward-Granger (3-1) — kickoff from Woodward is set for 7 p.m. — South Hamilton (2-2) has lost much of what experience it did return this fall, and it’s not a lot.
Elijah Balderas, Gavin Swenson, Blake Harris and Carter Balvanz are all sidelined for the foreseeable future, perhaps even the season in several of the cases, and Austin Busch only returned in Week 3 after missing the opening two games.
So while Klemp doesn’t want to marinate on what he doesn’t have, he eventually admits that, yeah, the injuries have taken a toll.
“I don’t know if I can even count (the number of injured players) anymore,” Klemp said. “Offensively, we’re starting 11 guys that didn’t start in that spot or at all last year and defensively I think the number is now 10. But none of that matters anymore because it’s Week 5 and these guys have got experience now. We don’t have anybody that’s potentially a new starter this week.”
Busch’s return to the offensive side of the ball at fullback was pivotal for South Hamilton last week, as it ended a two-game slide against Belmond-Klemme, 38-7. His versatility — he’s a dependable ball carrier and blocker — makes halfbacks Landen Skartvedt and Tycin Barkema more dangerous as well.
“If we can get that fullback going, that sets up the (halfbacks),” Klemp said. “They play off each other.”
Skartvedt leads the Hawks’ ground game with 547 yards and four touchdowns. Barkema has 180 yards and a score, while Busch churned out 92 yards and reached paydirt twice last week.
Woodward-Granger has been quite stingy defensively against non-ranked foes and has outscored them 110-21 in three wins. No. 10-ranked (1A) ACGC had its way with W-G though in a 62-6 rout.
“The biggest thing in that equation is ACGC is the real deal this year and I think that has a lot to do with it,” Klemp said. “This will definitely be a tough test for us.”
W-G brings another spread offense to the field, led by quarterback Carter Moen who has thrown for 518 yards and six TDs to go along with 194 yards rushing and seven more scores. Running back Dustin Harney has lugged the ball for 379 additional yards and four TDs.
“They’ve got a really good quarterback and that’s probably their strong suit, but their running back is more than capable,” Klemp said. “This is certainly a week of challenges for our linebackers and secondary.”
S. Hamilton (2-2) at Wood-Granger (3-1)
Where: Hawk Stadium, Woodward.
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
Last Meeting: South Hamilton won, 28-14, on Sept. 13, 2019..
Notes: Woodward-Granger has won 5 of the previous 6 meetings against South Hamilton dating back to 2010 … In its 3 wins, W-G has outscored its foes 110-21. Its only loss was a 62-2 shelling at the hands of 10th-ranked (Class 1A) ACGC.