Postseason positioning on the line when Hawks host Eagles
Tonight’s winner earns the No. 3 seed out of 1A?District 2
JEWELL — South Hamilton will finish off its regular season this evening when it welcomes Eagle Grove to Taylor Field for a Class 1A District 2 showdown that will help to sort out the seedings for the postseason.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
It’s simple, really. A South Hamilton (3-4, 2-2) win would give the Hawks a No. 3 seed for the playoffs, while Eagle Grove (3-4, 2-2) would sneak in as a No. 4 seed. Reverse the outcome and you reverse the seeds as well.
But what seed the Hawks garner for the postseason is of little concern in the present, head coach Corey Klemp says. He and his players are focused on the next 48 minutes of football, not what may happen with postseason seedings and pairings once the final horn goes off.
“Regardless of the postseason, we’d still be doing everything in our power to win the football game and it really does come down to that,” Klemp said. “The result will be positioning, but the mindset going in is about winning the football game.”
BC Moore lists South Hamilton as a 28-point favorite this evening, but Klemp expects a much tougher battle. This isn’t the Eagle Grove of recent years, he says, and he points to back-to-back wins over Manson-Northwest Webster and Belmond-Klemme by a combined 40 points as proof.
“You could say from early in the season to now as to how much they’ve improved,” Klemp said. “Just how physical they are on their line and in the backfield, they’re a good looking team.”
Eagle Grove ended a 26-game losing streak with a 32-6 rout of MVAOCOU on Sept. 3, which was the program’s first victory since it beat Ogden 40-27 way back on Oct. 3, 2017. The Eagles and Hawks have similar district resumes; both lost to champion South Central Calhoun and runner-up Woodward-Granger, while both beat Manson-Northwest Webster and Belmond-Klemme.
There is a difference in their district losses though. South Hamilton had a chance to beat the two leaders in the closing moments and dropped the outings by a combined eight points. SCC and Woodward-Granger thumped Eagle Grove by a combined 94 points.
Tonight’s contest will be a traditional battle on the ground, as neither team is eager to put the ball in the air. Eagle Grove ranks No. 45 out of 48 1A teams in passing yards (151), while South Hamilton is right behind at No. 46 (139). Together, with 290 passing yards, they’d only rank 41st in the class.
The Hawks have the seventh-ranked rushing offense in the class with 1,825 yards, while Eagle Grove sits at No. 18 (1,413).
South Hamilton has a formidable one-two punch in the backfield with halfback Landen Skartvedt (834 yards) and fullback Austin Busch (510 yards), as they’ve scored a combined 15 touchdowns. Busch is coming off a 210-yard performance in last week’s win over Manson-Northwest Webster.
The Hawks will again be without senior wingback Tycin Barkema, one of the many players to miss time due to injury. For the second straight week, sophomore Prestin Van De Pol will start in his place.
Eagle Gove’s offense is led by running backs Jake Jeske (422 yards, 2 TDs) and Roberto Calles (341 yards, 2 TDs).
The postseason pairings in 1A will likely be released sometime on Saturday.
Eagle Grove (3-4) at S. Hamilton (3-4)
Where: Taylor Field, Jewell.
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
Last Meeting: South Hamilton won, 54-6, on Oct. 25, 2019.
Notes: South Hamilton has won its last six meetings against Eagle Grove … The Eagles last win in the series came more than 10 years ago, 27-20, on Oct. 2, 2011.