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Hampshire football coach Dan Cavanaugh thought his team would have been on the playoff bubble with only five wins.
There is no reason for the Whip-Purs to sweat out next weekend's playoff selections any more after Friday night.
The Whip-Purs dominated Johnsburg 42-7 in Fox Valley Conference Fox Division play to earn their sixth victory and guarantee a playoff berth for the first time since 2008.
"It's history. It's a heartwarming feeling," said Hampshire senior Nick Kielbasa, who rushed for 119 yards and 3 touchdowns. "It makes us feel proud. It makes us feel like we accomplished something as a team, as a family."
Hampshire (6-2, 4-2) had only 28 playoff points heading into Friday's game. In most seasons, 5-4 teams would need to have playoff points in the high 30s to reach the postseason. Now the Whip-Purs can focus on potentially getting a postseason home game.
"It's fantastic, but it's not enough. We want to come back here," Hampshire junior Mason Fleury said. "We're 4-0 at home. If we win a seventh game, we have a chance for home-field advantage (in first round of playoffs)."
Kielbasa got the Whip-Purs going quickly against the Skyhawks (1-7, 1-4). He scored on the third snap of the game, breaking free for a 53-yard touchdown run with 10:40 remaining in the first quarter. Fleury intercepted Johnsburg quarterback Nick Brengman on the Skyhawks' first play and returned it to the Johnsburg 1. Kielbasa scored on the next play as Hampshire took a 14-0 lead just 1:43 into the game.
The Whip-Purs scored on their first five possessions and led 35-0 at halftime. Nick Mohlman threw touchdowns passes to Trey Schramm and Tim Jansen. Chris Calvin added a 4-yard touchdown run.
"We knew they we a tough defense," Kielbasa said. "We had to come out and punish them first. That's what we did."
Kielbasa added his third touchdown, a 3-yard run, with 27.9 renaming in the third quarter for a 42-0 lead.
The Whip-Purs forced 4 turnovers — 3 interceptions and a fumble recovery — and held Johnsburg to 178 yards. Brengman hit Austin Koontz for a 7-yard touchdown with 7:01 remaining for the Skyhawks' only score.
"That was huge just getting the momentum going right away," Cavanaugh said of the Whip-Purs' 2 first-quarter interceptions that both led to touchdowns. "Our defense really played well."
Calvin finished with 95 yards rushing on 9 carries. Mohlman was 5 of 6 passing for 77 yards.