West Hancock coach Bob Sanger has been around long enough to know when he has a special team.
Sanger, who has two state titles and two runner-up finishes in his 50 years of coaching, happens to be really high on his current team, which is playing in the Class A quarterfinals tonight at West Sioux. It’s the Eagles second straight trip to the quarterfinals.
“I just kind of feel like that’s where we should be,” Sanger said. “I feel like through the years we’ve had good kids and they had those opportunities, but sometimes things just don’t work out. This year it seems like things are falling in place right and we’ve got the right combination of things and we’re on the way.”
It’s this team’s body of work that leads to that belief.
The Eagles may have taken a few games to find themselves early on, but they’ve been as good as any Class A team in the state since an 0-2 start. The reason for that — the kids have put it on themselves to be better.
Before the Eagles’ game vs. St. Ansgar, senior running back MaCoy Yeakel said what they’re doing this year is a way of kind of one-upping the seniors who came before them — at least that’s their goal. West Hancock has put in the work to do that.
“It takes a lot of work and a lot of preparation,” sophomore Tate Hagen said. “Practices have gotten a lot tougher, the offensive line has really stepped up. We’ve made leaps and bounds from Week 1 and Week 2.”
After last week’s playoff-opening victory at Garrigan, the competition ramps up a little this week when the Eagles make the nearly three-hour trip to Hawarden to square off with top-ranked West Sioux.
The Falcons (10-0) and their offense have torn apart opposing defenses all season. West Sioux is averaging more than 57 points per game, which is the best in Class A by more than 10 points per game.
Part of this is the product of the style of offenses the district they play in, which is pass heavy.
West Sioux quarterback Hunter Dekkers has thrown 1,629 yards and 26 touchdowns.
The Falcons are no slouch on the ground either as Jake Lynott has 2,019 yards and 30 touchdowns on 147 carries.
“It’s really hard when all those team out there do that same stuff where they toss the ball all over and they’re playing each other that way,” Sanger said. “Ours is a different style of ball.
“They’re going to play a different kind of football team than they’ve played all year so we’re going to find out.”
Nevertheless, the Eagles have a shot at making it to the UNI-Dome once again and they're pretty happy about it.
“It’s not really the goal but you’re expected to be there,” West Hancock sophomore Josef Smith. “I feel like we’ve gotten where we need to be and now we just have to go out there and play like we know we can play.”