MASON CITY – When West Hancock’s offense is at its best, it is a portrait of simplicity.
Veteran Eagles coach Bob Sanger has successfully patrolled the sidelines for 50 years with a basic philosophy of perfecting a handful of plays and seeing if opponents can stop them.
“We just keep trying to get better at them,” Sanger said.
On Friday, the resurgent Eagles spoiled Newman Catholic’s homecoming as they rushed for 526 yards and seven touchdowns in a 54-20 West Hancock win.
The victory was the fourth straight for West Hancock and kept the Eagles undefeated in district play after opening the season with a pair of disappointing losses.
“I knew we would be a good football team,” Sanger said. “We have been getting better with each game.”
On this night, it was classic Sanger-style football as the Eagles did not attempt a pass.
Josef Smith, a sophomore running back, exploded for 204 yards on 17 carries.
Smith, who entered the game with 244 yards on the season, reached the end zone four times on runs of seven, 20, 24 and 68 yards and added four two-point conversions on the night.
MaCoy Yeakel added 200 yards on 11 carries, including three runs of at least 45 yards while Tate Hagen had 120 yards and three scores.
For Newman, the Knights penchant for slow starts in games this season finally caught up with them as West Hancock opened up a 16-point lead after just 8:40 of the first quarter.
“They were more physical than we were,” Knights coach Rich McCardle said. “Against a quality team, you can’t get down by two scores.”
The Knights managed to trade touchdowns with the Eagles for most of the remainder of the game.
Ben Jacobs, who rushed for 84 yards to lead Newman, scored twice while Jack Fitzgerald chipped in with a two-yard scoring run.
The Knights, though, could not solve the power running game of West Hancock, and the Eagles added three interceptions — including two by Yeakel — to thwart Newman drives that could have kept the Knights in the game.
West Hancock (4-2, 4-0) returns home on Friday to host Rockford in district play while Newman (4-2, 2-2) faces a must-win game at St. Ansgar on Friday.