After two weeks of prep football frustration, Hopkins High is hoping to earn its first win of the season when it plays Armstrong at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15, at Armstrong High Stadium.
There were encouraging signs for the Royals in a 38-20 loss to Waconia Sept. 8, but everyone is anxious for success to come more quickly.
“We’re getting there, but we’re pretty young,” said Hopkins head coach John DenHartog. “We need to make fewer mental mistakes.”
Armstrong, coming off a 27-24 upset win over Spring Lake Park last week is 1-1 overall. The Falcons lost to Chanhassen in Week 1.
“Armstrong has a big, physical athlete at running back, Jesse Sherwood,” said DenHartog. “He is built like a linebacker.”
In the Falcons’ victory over Spring Lake Park, Sherwood was a juggernaut, carrying the football 23 times for 205 yards and three touchdowns. His average for the game was 8.9 yards per carry.
While Sherwood keyed the running game, Falcon quarterback Cole Priem passed only five times, completing three for 58 yards.
Armstrong clearly relies on the ground game, and Hopkins is looking for a balanced attack.
Junior Jadon Washington rushed 15 times for 85 yards in the loss to Waconia. Meanwhile, the Royals used two quarterbacks, senior Connor Fitzgerald and junior James Klecker. Fitzgerald passed for more than 200 yards, with senior Zarion Hill on the receiving end for 150 of those yards. Klecker did his part by scoring a touchdown on a 2-yard run in the second quarter. A 21-yard pass from Fitzgerald to Hill was good for a touchdown. Washington had a touchdown on a 6-yard run.
“Our quarterbacks both have strengths, and they’re good kids,” DenHartog noted.
Hopkins’ defense will regroup after allowing 38 points last week.
“Waconia is very athletic at wide receiver and their quarterback had a good night,” said DenHartog.
The Wildcats scored their first two touchdowns on passes over the top that covered 55 and 69 yards. Later, the visitors added two more passing touchdowns that covered 18 and 59 yards.
Waconia led 29-14 at the conclusion of a high-scoring first half. In the second half, each team managed only one touchdown and Waconia added a safety.
Offensively, DenHartog likes the way the Royals’ ground game is developing. Washington, who scored 10 touchdowns last season, is the key. Willie Blakes, a 5-foot-8, 180-pound sophomore, showed a lot of potential in the Waconia game.
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