News

Matt Korb, Hiawatha send coach Jason Keneway out with a 64-0 win over North Fulton

KIRKLAND — With its 64-0 over North Fulton on Saturday, the Hiawatha football team made sure head coach Jason Keneway ended his tenure never having a losing record, even in a pandemic-shortened season.

Keneway announced to his players on Friday that he would be stepping away from coaching the Hawks after Saturday’s game, the conclusion of his fifth season with the team. The 2010 graduate of Hiawatha finished up 30-16 after a 3-3 record in 2021, the team’s first in eight-man football.

Keneway said the main reason he’s leaving is to spend more time with his infant daughter, Aubrey.

“They love her too and they understand,” Keneway said. “A school as small as ours, it’s a family. A lot of schools preach family but this is a family. They understand it’s sad to see it come to an end, but I’m proud of all the stuff we’ve done.

“I’m proud to be a coach of the Hiawatha Hawks. When I started I don’t think many people would have said they were proud to have played for Hiawatha. But these guys these past five years are definitely proud.”

The run was unprecedented in school history, with three playoff appearances and no losing records. When Keneway took over in 2016, the team hadn’t been to the playoffs since 1987. He took them to the playoffs in his first year, and in 2019 the Hawks won their first playoff game under Keneway.

Between 2001 and 2015 the Hawks won 31 total games – Keneway came a win shy of that total in five years.

“Obviously we really wanted to get this one for the seniors,” said quarterback Matt Korb, who completed 10-of-11 passes for 183 yards. “And when we found out about Keneway, that just added to the emotional stuff.”

Win No. 30 came in emphatic fashion, with the Hawks scoring on every full possession. The entire second half was played with a running clock after the Hawks led the Wildcats 50-0 at the break.

Hiawatha outgained North Fulton 452-20 for the game, including 132-2 in the second half, even with the running clock.

“I think we finally got this eight-man thing figured out,” Keneway said. “When we’re on, we’re on. We really got into a groove, me with my play-calling and my schemes and the guys have figured out the flow of the game. These guys, when they mesh together and get in sync they’re pretty tough to stop.”

Korb’s five scores were to three different receivers. All three of Austin Brantley’s catches were for touchdowns. Cole Brantley had a TD reception of 56 yards among his three catches, and Josue Rubio had a scoring catch of 5 yards.

“I always like to be on-target,” Korb said. “It felt good to be on-target today.”

Cole Brantley and Austin Brantley each had a touchdown run as well. Hayden Bingaman led the team with 109 rushing yards and two touchdowns, carrying the ball nine times in the second half, with the team running 14 second-half plays.

Keneway had the chance to move some players around late with the big lead. Jacob Smith, normally a lineman, had a second-quarter interception and spent some time at safety.

Chris Korb also had a huge game defensively, making tackles all over the field, including a tackle for a loss on the first play of the game and blocking a punt in the second quarter.

The only two drives on which the Hawks did not score was one that began 4 seconds before half, and one that began with less than a minute left in the fourth. Every play on those drives was a kneel down.

Matt Korb said he felt the Hawks played one of the toughest schedules in the state, including twice facing River Ridge, which has been near the top of the polls all year.

And after a 1-3 start, it was looking like the Hawks might have their first losing season under Keneway. But two emphatic wins later and the Hawks avoided a losing season.

Keneway played for the Hawks from 2006-2010, going from one win in his freshman year to five in 2009, the team’s last winning season before 2016, though they missed a playoff berth.

He said now that he can’t even remember playing, as what he has accomplished with his players as a coach has dwarfed that, as he called the experience literally life-changing.

“My experience was good, I learned a lot from it,” Keneway said. “But I was never satisfied. There was more to be done. The talent has always been there. It just needed some pieces to be put together. So for these guys to have what I never did, playoff runs and winning seasons and breaking records, it’s everything.”