After competing gamely in a 41-21 loss to No. 1-ranked Eden Prairie last week, the Hopkins High football team is preparing for its homecoming game.
Coach John DenHartog’s Royals will take on Edina at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27, at Hopkins High Stadium. Both teams are 4-1 overall this season.
“Edina has a diverse offense,” said DenHartog. “They run well, they throw well and they have a big, strong offensive line just like Eden Prairie.”
Edina quarterback Mark “Stavro” Handberg, a 6-4, 215-pound senior, had a big night in the Hornets’ 27-20 overtime victory over Minnetonka Sept. 20. He threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Erik Veker to tie the game in the fourth quarter. Then he passed 11 yards to Marley Allison for the game-winner in overtime.
It was a minor upset. Minnetonka entered the contest ranked fifth in the state in Class 6A and Edina was ranked tenth.
Coach DenHartog said there can sometimes be distractions during homecoming week, but he added, “We have a mature group of athletes. The kids really enjoy homecoming, but they realize we have a game to play.”
The Royals found a few chinks in Eden Prairie’s armor last week, but not enough to win the ballgame. Coach Mike Grant’s club was a well-oiled machine with senior quarterback Grant Shaffer running the offense.
“Eden Prairie doesn’t turn the ball over or get a lot of penalties,” said DenHartog.
The Royals had to earn all 21 of their points.
“We were outmanned by a bigger team, but not in terms of aggressiveness,” said DenHartog.
Quarterback J.T. DenHartog, the coach’s son, had a productive night. He had a 6-yard run for Hopkins’ first touchdown that tied the score 7-7.
Later, the 6-3, 205-pound senior found Adam Caskey on a 17-yard touchdown pass play. DenHartog and Terrance Bowers hooked up on a 33-yard touchdown pass play to complete Hopkins’ scoring.
J.T. is the Lake Conference leader in total offense, and the Royals have not been held to fewer than three touchdowns in any game this season.
“Charlie Guiliani was our unsung hero Friday night,” said coach DenHartog. “He had to block some really big Eden Prairie players, and he did a good job.”
DenHartog added that senior linebacker and captain Jared Allen was a defensive standout.
“Jared took on some big blockers and made a lot of plays,” said the Hopkins coach.