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ALEXANDRIA — The Hanson Beavers opened up the football season with a string of five losses but have since turned things around.

The Beavers (3-5) have won three straight contests, beginning with a 48-20 homecoming win over Menno/Marion Oct. 11. Since its first win of the season, Hanson also has recorded wins over Freeman and Mount Vernon/Plankinton.

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The No. 4 Beavers travel to take on No. 1 Howard (8-0) today in the first-round of the Class 9A playoffs. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in Howard.

Hanson coach Jim Haskamp credited his team’s turnaround partly to seniors Jacob Paradeis and Marshall Miller.

“They’ve done a lot on the field but even more than that is the leadership they bring,” he said. “They’ve been in the program for four years and when we got out to an 0-5 start, we held things together and didn’t give up. They were a big part in providing leadership and continue to work hard.”

Paradeis, a 5-foot-11 running back, leads the Beavers with 109 carries for 962 yards and 15 touchdowns and the receiving corps with seven receptions for 200 yards and three scores. Miller, a 6-foot defensive end, has totaled 42 tackles and a team-high eight sacks.

Four of Hanson’s five losses came to ranked teams. Haskamp said the Beavers have started executing and in turn have seen results.

“We’re getting assignments done and we’ve stopped shooting ourselves in the foot with mistakes,” he said. “But the big thing is the confidence. We’re gotten over the hump and they have belief in themselves and in each other.”

The Beavers played at Howard earlier this season and lost 38-8 and Haskamp knows his team will need to play its best football of the season to take down the top-ranked Tigers.

“We just know we’re going to have to play awfully well,” he said. “I do believe we’re playing better now but they have to. We’ve got to continue to focus on what we have to do to win the football game.”

Hanson is led defensively by junior linebacker Sam Vander Stouwe with 55 tackles and Paradeis has a second-best 54.

Junior quarterback Jerrod Zens has completed 20 of 45 passes for 407 yards and five touchdowns and has run 33 times for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Junior fullback Mason Mayer has 58 carries for 408 yards and three scores, while junior fullback Andy Craig has run the ball 43 times for 230 yards and two touchdowns.

Brooke Cersosimo
Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.