BRITT — For the first two weeks of the season, West Hancock was not itself.
The Eagles had a lot of new faces in new places and were not quite up to speed, and it led to some uncharacteristic play in a 40-0 loss vs. Garner-Hayfield-Ventura and a 12-8 defeat vs. Belmond-Klemme. It was right then that West Hancock, a team which played in a Class A playoff quarterfinal last fall, fell off the radar.
As it turns out, that’s right where the Eagles thrive.
“It didn’t seem like we had our stuff going,” West Hancock senior MaCoy Yeakel said. “But now that we’ve got our stuff going after those two games, we found out how good we could really be. Now we’re just going out and showing what we can be.”
West Hancock has rattled off five straight wins after the rough start and has put itself in position to win a district title. Friday’s game at home vs. St. Ansgar will determine the Eagles’ fate.
In the run-up to this game, it’s been a West Hancock team which has been nearly flawless in all phases.
The Eagles are averaging 54 points per game during the winning streak and are allowing opponents just over 10 per contest.
Yeakel, who was used sparingly as a junior, is a big reason why in all categories.
The senior 5-foot-11, 160-pound back has amassed 783 yards on the ground, has 19½ tackles and two interceptions on defense, and has provided a spark on special teams with four punt returns for touchdowns. Through six games, Yeakel has 11 total touchdowns.
“That’s a great feeling for a kid that was all through the years come down to his senior year and now he’s just a great football player and he’s doing great things, and he’s doing it everywhere,” West Hancock coach Bob Sanger said. “He’s doing it on specialties, he does it on offense, does it on defense and he’s a total football player.”
Offensively, the Eagles have played off Yeakel’s strengths in addition to a pair of other guys doing their part as well.
Sophomores Tate Hagen and Josef Smith have combined for more than 1,000 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns to provide the perfect complement to Yeakel. In an area of need coming into the season, the sophomores have stepped up.
“That wasn’t a surprise to me, but to have sophomores like that, that’s pretty special,” Sanger said. “They’re very coachable kids, they’re very much — I’m not saying followers, but they’re taking what the leaders have put out there for them to do and doing great job of it.”
And with the offensive line hitting its stride in the streak as well, it’s been total domination offensively.
“That’s just fun, especially on the line because if our lineman get up two or three yards and then our backs are right behind us, that’s still a two- or three-yard gain,” senior offensive lineman Hunter Hagen said.
From Yeakel’s perspective, that’s the most important aspect.
“Our offensive line is just great this year,” he said. “I’ve got to give all the credit to them. They help us out a lot up there.”
But it all comes back to the lessons in those first two games, both of which the Eagles have carried with them.
All things considered, when the Eagles line up Friday night with a shot at a district title, this is exactly where they thought they’d be.
“I felt we’d be a good football team, but we were young and we made a lot of mistakes in those first ball games that were just young mistakes,” Sanger said. “I think more practice and I knew we were going develop, but I knew we were going to be a good football team because I saw so many good things.”