Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn finished the regular season by thrashing Akron-Westfield 50-13 October 15 at Akron. The win allowed the Hawks to finish with a 6-0 record in Class A District 1.
The playoffs begin Friday at 7:00 p.m. with 6-2 HMS hosting Tri-Center, Neola. The Trojans finished fourth in District 8 and carry a record of 5-3 into the contest.
At Akron the Westerners scored the first touchdown of the game and the last, but in between the contest belonged to the Hawks. HMS took control by scoring 20 points in the final 39 seconds of the first quarter. Quarterback Korey Ebel capped a 62 yard drive with a three-yard scoring plunge. Then the defense stepped into the spotlight. James Gellerman slipped in front of the Westerners’ receiver to return an interception 54 yards for a touchdown. Then it was Jordan Ortega’s turn. He tipped a screen pass and collected the ball to record a 24-yard pick-six.
“We feel confident in taking the ball away and we did exactly that,” remarked Hawk head coach Jay Eilers. “This is a springboard. I knew these guys (A-W) were playing good football when I saw the score last week and that’s the respect we have for the teams in our district. They came out in that first series and did a great job. Our kids are relentless. Our kids are just tough as nails and the thing that’s even better is they’re so coachable. We have great coaches and great kids. I’m lucky to be here.”
Running back Connor Dodd was the big canon fired by the offense. He rushed for 186 yards and two scores on 17 carries. His 55-yard scamper in the third quarter completed the scoring for HMS. As Eilers reminded, the blocking makes it all possible. “We feel very confident with the guys up front,” said the coach. “Based on a couple different fronts and alignments we’re going to go with a couple different things offensively. Sometimes people may think that’s a boring offense, but we’re very successful, our kids are very explosive with it and that’s a compliment to our work ethic and what they’ve done on the offseason.”
Ebel, who collected three rushing touchdowns, went over the top of the Akron-Westfield defense with a pair of big pass plays. A 40-yard aerial to Ryan Borden set up Dodd for the first of his two scores. Then Travis Kamradt hauled in a 50-yard touchdown pass to close out the first half and give the Hawks a 38-7 lead. “We’re going to make sure that we are trying to force people to play us the whole field,” emphasized Eilers.
The Westerners finished the game with 182 yards of total offense including 69 on the ground. The Hawks got nine total tackles from Ebel and eight-and-a-half from Kamradt. Lance Berends chipped in with five-and-a-half and Dodd added another five.
Although Eilers did not know immediately after win whom the Hawks would face in the playoffs, he commented that it really doesn’t matter. “The opponent’s us,” said the coach. “That’s going to be our standard week in and week out.” He referred to this time of the season as TYSI time. “TYSI was something that we talked about at Northwest Missouri State and really enjoyed it,” he explained. “This is Turn Your Stuff In games. We want to make some people turn their stuff in on Monday and just play Hawk football.” The coach feels the Hawks are peaking at the right time and says it is so rewarding to coach these players because of their selfless attitude and team mentality. “I’ve got a feeling we’re going to be physical and ready to play football,” said Eilers.
HMS 20 18 12 0 – 50
A-W 7 0 0 6 – 13
5:22 A-W – Cade Walkingstick 1 yard run (Landyn Vossberg kick) 0-7
0:39 HMS – Korey Ebel 3 yard run (2 pt run failed) 6-7
0:12 HMS – James Gellerman 54 yard interception return (pass failed) 12-7
0:00 HMS – Jordan Ortega 24 yard interception return (Dodd 2 pt run) 20-7
7:03 HMS – Ebel 10 yard run (2 pt run failed) 26-7
2:53 HMS – Dodd 1 yard run (2 pt try failed) 32-7
1:13 HMS – Travis Kamradt 50 yard pass from Ebel (run failed) 38-7
9:20 HMS – Ebel 10 yard run (kick failed) 44-7
4:01 HMS – Dodd 55 yard run (kick failed) 50-7
1:06 A-W – Lane Kenny 16 yard pass from Laytin Koch (2 pt pass failed) 50-13
Rushing: Dodd 17-186, 2 TD; Ebel 10-158, 3 TD; Ryan Borden 2-10; Ethan Diehm 3-(-4); Gellerman 1-(-2).
Passing: Ebel 2-5, 90 yards, 1 TD.
Receiving: Kamradt 1-50, 1 TD; Borden 1-40.
Leading Tacklers: Ebel 9 (7 solos); Kamradt 8.5 (7); Lance Berends 5.5 (4); Dodd 5 (4); Keevyn Jacobsma 4.5 (3); Keaton Graves 4 (3); Gellerman 3.5 (3); Brenton Thomas 3.5 (3); Mason Brinkman 3 (3); Landon Elwood 3 (3); Ortega 2.5 (2); Adam Schierholz 2.5 (2).
Interceptions: Gellerman 1-54; Ortega 1-24.
Kickoff returns: Ebel 1-15, Zach Pearson 1-5, Dodd 1-5.
Kickoffs: Nick Bronstad 8-327.
Punts: Ortega 1-43.