Eight-Man II state football preview: Hanover vs. St. Francis

By Blake Chadwick

Eight-Man II

Who: Hanover (10-0) vs. St. Francis (11-0)

When: 11 a.m., Saturday

Where: Fischer Field, Newton 

Hanover is looking to win its fourth title in the last five seasons. Hanover also won in 1979, 2008 and 2009. Hanover has played nine title games. 

St. Francis has played in one state title game, in 2016.

St. Francis Indians

Coach: Nick Fawcett

  • Key Players
    • RB-LB Shadryon Blanka 6-2, 205, Sr. (2,050 rushing yards, 40 total touchdowns and 82 total tackles)
    • TE-SS Ben Busse 6-0, 150, So. (9 passing touchdowns and 7 int)
    • OL-DL Jesse Baxter 6-3, 215, Sr. (17 tfl and 13 sacks)

What makes your team special?

“We are a very experienced team, having a roster full of players who have never lost to anyone but state championship-winning teams in previous seasons (33-2 record).”

Who have been key players for you this season?

“Shadryon Blanka, Jesse Baxter, Adam Krien, Colton Neitzel, Kobe Tice, Ben Busse.”

Have any players been a surprise?

“Ben Busse went from a freshman that never started a game to full-time, two-way starter and first team all-league and all-district DB as a sophomore.”

What got your team into the state championship game?

“As a coaching staff, we made a vow to our kids to ‘make football fun again’ three years ago when I took the head coaching job. Kids didn’t enjoy playing football and half of the roster had quit midseason the year before. Kids needed to enjoy playing football again and to realize their worth and be shown respect. The rest is history, having enjoyed the best season in school history last season (12 wins) and a 35-2 record since. We have been working towards this goal every day for three years now.  We have put in the work and paid our dues. “

What does your team need to do in order to win the state championship game?

“Win the turnover battle. Limit mental mistakes.  Play assignment sound football.  Physically dominate our opponent. “

Hanover Wildcats

Head Coach: Matt Heuer

  • Key Players
    • QB Jacob Jueneman 6-4, 165, Sr. (1,111 passing yards 19 touchdowns 2 int, 665 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns)
    • LB Jacob Klipp 6-2, 195, Sr. (114 tackles)
    • RB-LB Colin Jueneman 6-2, 175, Sr. (1,058 total yards and 57 total tackles)

Keys to win the state championship? 

“Offensive keys to victory will be ball security and being able to stay balanced throughout the course of the game. We have to be able to take advantage of every opportunity given to us.

“Defensive keys to victory include being physical at the point of attack and very precise in our run fits. We have to be able to keep them against the chains as much as possible. Our team athleticism has to be utilized to getting to the play and then finishing with good tackling technique. Obviously winning the turnover battle would be a big help as well.”