Serving O'Brien & Clay Counties

Something old, something new

Revamped offense not enough to overcome MMCRU in 42-14 loss

There was a bit of the familiar as well as the unfamiliar when Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn hosted MMCRU on Sept. 8 in a Class A District 1 football matchup.

The offense featured by H-M-S was very familiar. After two weeks of running the split-back veer, the Hawks returned to the single wing – the offense they ran with great success the previous two seasons.

What was clearly unfamiliar was the outcome of the game. With their 42-14 win, the Royals broke a six-game losing streak against H-M-S that dated back to 2016.

"No. 1, they've got nice skill players," Hawk coach Jay Eilers said. "I take my hat off to them. I think they've gotten so much improved in the offensive line. I think they've done a nice job there."

MMCRU scored on four consecutive first-half possessions. Brayson Mulder scored on a pair of runs in the first quarter to give the Royals a 14-0 lead. Two second-quarter scores came on passes of 11 and 30 yards. MMCRU led 27-6 at half time.

H-M-S's best drive of the first half covered 71 yards on 13 plays. Ethan Wiersma scored on a three-yard run with 5:15 remaining. The PAT attempt was blocked.

Wiersma led the offense with 167 yards on 27 rushing attempts.

"I think our offensive line blocked well," Eilers noted. "I'm extremely proud of Ethan Wiersma to come in and play tailback the way he did. I think there's a toughness with him."

MMCRU scored twice in the third quarter on a two-yard run by Mulder and a 14-yard pass play.

The Hawks put together another long drive in the final quarter that ended with Wiersma's five-yard scoring run. The two-point conversion made the score 42-14.

Jack Mastbergen added 96 rushing yards and Jr Araiza ran for 28. Mastbergen completed 1-of-3 passes. The only completion was to Araiza for negative yardage.

"I think we helped them offensively to play faster, so I'm definitely proud of them there," Eilers said. "Now we've got to help them play faster on defense and do that for them."

Leading tacklers were Araiza 6.5, Bradley Van Beek and Wiersma 5.5, Evan Eilers and Adam Schierholz 5.0, Mastbergen 4.0, Zach Pearson and David Wetrich 3.0, and Slayton McCarter and Isaac Schierholz 2.5. Adam Schierholz had H-M-S's only tackle for loss.

• Next Up: at Akron-Westfield

The Hawks go back on the road Friday night, taking on Akron-Westfield. The Westerners' statistics from their 20-13 win over Hinton indicate they are similar to H-M-S's previous opponent.

"I think Akron-Westfield's very similar to what we just saw, from formation-wise to even some player aspects," Eilers said. "I think their quarterback does a nice job. I think they have a couple of nice receivers that do a nice job. And they're going to run the ball. They're going to be physical."

On defense, the Westerners will blitz often. Picking up the blitz will be a point of emphasis, as well as gaining confidence on both sides of the line of scrimmage.

"We've got to be smart, keep our kids healthy, build confidence and then play fast – improve our speed of the game," Eilers noted.