The Hartley Sentinel-The Everly/Royal News - Serving O'Brien & Clay Counties

By Mike Petersen
Sports Editor & Staff Writer 

Denied the ultimate prize

Hawks fall short against Woodbury Central in quarterfinal round


November 10, 2022


H-M-S senior football players accepted the state participant trophy following the quarterfinal playoff game with Woodbury Central. Pictured from left to right are: Keevyn Jacobsma, Elijah Groeneweg, Ryan Borden, Spencer McCarter, Kooper Ebel (with trophy), Lance Berends, Travis Kamradt, Ethan Diehm and Landen Elwood. Seniors not visible include Ethan Baker, Tyson Tessum and Trenton Vollink.

After home playoff wins over North Union and Hinton, Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn faced its sternest postseason test: a quarterfinal round matchup with undefeated Woodbury Central with the goal of advancing to the UNI-Dome to play in the Class A semifinals.

In the most competitive of the four quarterfinal games, H-M-S fell behind twice in the first half but rebounded to take the lead in the third quarter. Woodbury Central would eventually prevail, scoring in the fourth quarter to earn a 27-24 win on Nov. 4 at Moville.

Woodbury Central opened the game with a scoring pass to Zack Butler, followed by a 56-yard reception by Kyan Schultzen that gave the Wildcats a 12-0 lead.

It appeared Woodbury Central would add to it after Chase Copeland returned an interception to the Hawk 15. But after two incomplete passes and lost yardage on third down, Lance Berends recorded a sack to keep the deficit at 12 points.

The rough start to the game mirrored H-M-S's week of preparation which included an "out of whack" schedule and a practice with a center who had never taken a snap. Hawk coach Jay Eilers said that may have prepared the players to respond to adversity.

"It's the same thing we told our kids: we can focus on the storm or we can just focus on our job, because there are going to be storms throughout your life," he remarked. "I felt like that was kind of how the game started. We can focus on the storm or we can just focus on our job."

The Hawks did the latter, scoring first on a 60-yard run by Kooper Ebel. Nineteen seconds later, Berends stripped the ball and took it 35 yards to the end zone.

"I'm really proud of our kids for doing that," Eilers said. "It was kind of like 'Hey, we need something to believe in here,' and sure enough, we got it back to 12-12."

The Wildcats regained the lead with a seven-yard reception by Will DeStigter. The Hawks followed that with a 14-play drive capped by Travis Kamradt's two-yard run to make the score 19-18 in favor of the Wildcats.

Woodbury Central had the ball for 7.4 seconds before the intermission but Ebel intercepted a pass to prevent further scoring.

After an exchange of possessions to start the second half, the Hawks were hampered by poor field position before Ebel broke off a 44-yard run. That put H-M-S in front for the only time, 24-19. But the Wildcats would not be denied, scoring on a 64-yard pass to Eric McGill. The two-point conversion gave them a 27-24 lead with 8:20 remaining.

H-M-S overcame poor field position again with a 30-yard pass to Ethan Diehm. But the Hawks turned the ball over on downs and Woodbury Central ran out the final five minutes to seal the win.

Eilers felt that little things added up to end the Hawks' season.

"It was difficult in the last two series. We came up five yards or less short, and we had penalties on those series. We need to stay ahead of the chains rather than behind the chains, and I think that's ultimately what snipped our heel," he acknowledged.

"It's all looking in the rearview mirror, but I'd like to call some of my two-point conversions differently," Eilers added. "We scored four touchdowns and were 0-for our two point conversions and that stung."

Ebel's 259 rushing yards were the fifth-highest total in H-M-S playoff history. Trenton Vollink rushed for 33 yards and Kamradt added 21.

In addition, Diehm caught four passes for 67 yards, Kamradt had one catch for 15 and Keevyn Jacobsma added a four-yard reception.

"Man, our running backs, did they run hard. They refused to go down," Eilers said. "I felt like there was a part of the game when our O-line started to take control. We didn't get to take advantage of the momentum of those big guys up front. That was tough that we didn't get to stay with that."

Despite changing defenses by H-M-S, Wildcat quarterback Drew Kluender completed 17 passes to four receivers for a total of 289 yards.

"We tried to give them many different looks. We could not stay in the same coverage. We could not stay in the same front all night long," Eilers said. "We tried to blitz them to make [him] feel uncomfortable in the pocket and I compliment No. 10. With his knowledge of the scheme and defense, he did a very good job of getting the ball out quickly."

H-M-S's rush defense limited the Wildcats to 69 yards. Max McGill was their leading rusher with 38 yards on 14 carries.


Ethan Wiersma stops Max McGill from gaining additional yardage. Wiersma made three solo tackles in the loss to the Wildcats.

"We felt like their whole offense starts with McGill. We felt like offensively and defensively they were built around him," Eilers noted. "I was very proud of what we were able to do with him on offense, contain him and keep him under control."

Kamradt led H-M-S in total tackles with 8.5, six of which were solo. Three of Berends' 6.5 total tackles were for losses, including a pair of sacks.

Other tackle leaders (total/solo) were Ebel 5/4, JR Araiza 4.5/4, Ethan Wiersma and Vollink 4/3, Jacobsma 3.5/3, Landen Elwood and Diehm 3/3, Ryan Borden and Bryce Ortega 2.5/2, and Evan Eilers 2/2.

The Hawks compiled an 8-3 record for the second straight year. The teams that defeated them (West Sioux, West Hancock and Woodbury Central) take a combined record of 32-1 into this week's semifinal games at Cedar Falls.

A wrap-up of H-M-S's season, including postseason honors, will be featured in a future issue.


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