Hawks rip A-P, on track to host playoff game

JEWELL – South Hamilton began this season focused on ending a six-year postseason drought. Six weeks later that plan has been altered.

The Hawks would now love to stay home for the playoffs, and so far they’re right on track.

A balanced offensive attack and a bend but don’t break defensive mentality conjured up dominant results at Taylor Field on Friday, as South Hamilton dismantled a struggling Aplington-Parkersburg program 43-6 to remain in second place in the Class 1A District 3 standings. The first- and second-place finishers in the district will host first-round playoff games later this month.

“Our kids are playing good football and they feel like they can beat just about anybody right now,” South Hamilton head coach T.J. Schafer said after his squad picked up its third consecutive victory since a 28-14 loss to fourth-ranked and district leader Dike-New Hartford in Week 3. “We want a home playoff game; that would be very important to us.”

Senior quarterback Matt Hislop completed seven of his first eight passes and finished 8 of 14 for 160 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He rifled a pair of TD passes during the decisive second quarter in which South Hamilton (5-1, 3-1) outscored Aplington-Parkersburg (2-4, 1-2) 19-0 to move in front 22-6 at the half.

Devin Howard rushed for 148 yards and three touchdowns, and he also hauled in a TD from Andy Cook on a halfback pass in the fourth quarter to extend the Hawks lead to 36 points. South Hamilton piled up 447 yards of total offense against a usually stringy Falcon defense.

“Against some of our not as competitive opponents we just try to keep the ball on the ground and run it, but in some of the bigger games when we spread the ball around to a lot of different people we’re usually more successful that way,” Schaefer said.

Fullback Sam Waid added 31 tough yards on the ground, and he got into the scoring act on a pass from Hislop. The veteran signal caller spread around the wealth; four different players caught at least one pass with Trevor Ullestad the main weapon with four grabs that covered 100 yards. He also reached the end zone once.

“Matt had a great game. He was really efficient at quarterback,” Schaefer said. “He kept throwing slant routes and Trevor got some pretty good yards after the catch.”

A-P turned an early South Hamilton turnover into points on a 53-yard run by Alex Johnson to give the Falcons a 6-0 lead, but it was all Hawks after that.

Ullestad booted a 23-yard field goal with 4:01 to go in the first quarter, and he capped the Hawks’ second-quarter spurt with a 25-yard touchdown reception. Earlier in the period Hislop found Waid open for an 8-yard TD toss and then Howard broke free on a 61-yard scamper to the house.

Howard was responsible for all of the Hawks second-half scores. He crossed the goal line from the 1 late in the third, powered his way to an 11-yard TD early in the fourth and then hauled in the 33-yard pass from Cook with 9:21 remaining.

A-P moved the ball throughout the contest and finished with 341 yards, but the Falcons weren’t able to translate all of those yards into points after their opening drive.

“(The Falcons wing-t offense) is very tough to read because they do so many fakes and it took us about a quarter to catch up,” Schaefer said. “But after about the first drive or two we shut them down.

“Coach (Kyle) Galetich ran the defense this week and he did an outstanding job. He did a great job of getting the kids prepared.”

Tyler Duster gained 156 yards on 24 carries for A-P, and Johnson also broke into triple digits with 107.

Ullestad collected his 1A-leading seventh interception of the season, and he sits in second in the state regardless of class. The overall state lead is held by 8-man player Rhett Nowotny of HLV Victor with eight.

Hawk linebackers Waid, Brady Clabaugh and Garrett Evans notched nine, eight and eight tackles, respectively.

South Hamilton will now take a break from district play to take on a formidable Ogden team on Friday. The Bulldogs (5-1) match the Hawks in wins and their only blemish is a 35-28 loss to 10th-ranked Van Meter in Week 4.

“Right now we’re thinking we want to beat Ogden because they’re a pretty good non-district opponent,” Schaefer said.