The Hartley High School football team viewed its 34-31 loss at Clarksville Clinton-Massie on Sept. 21 as only a short-term setback.

Continuing their pursuit of a ninth consecutive playoff berth and second CCL title in a row, the Hawks improved to 4-2 with a 49-28 win over visiting Watterson on Sept. 28 in their league opener.

They return to non-league play Saturday, Oct. 6, as host to Dayton Belmont in the first meeting between the programs.

“Obviously, no one likes losing,” junior running back Jalan January said. “We only can learn from our mistakes as a team. We feel we still have a strong chance to make the playoffs and go on a big run.”

The emergence of January has been a key factor in Hartley’s confidence.

Through five games, he had rushed 98 times for 676 yards and seven touchdowns to lead a rushing attack that was averaging 299.2 yards. Junior quarterback Miles Fleming, senior running back Philip Cole and junior running back Mason Sawyer all have rushed for more than 200 yards. Cole also had 278 yards and four touchdowns on 11 receptions through five games. Against Watterson, January rushed for 250 yards and three touchdowns and Cole added 132 yards and one score.

Belmont started 0-4 but improved to 2-4 with a 52-14 win over Dayton Dunbar on Sept. 29, which followed a 26-21 victory over Dayton Thurgood Marshall on Sept. 20.

The Bison have made three consecutive playoff appearances, including last season when they finished 9-1 and made the Division II postseason.

Belmont is led offensively by senior running back Jayzon Wagner and junior quarterback Rian Reaves in a run-first offensive approach that traditionally has featured the double wing-T under coach Earl White.

“Our locker room believes this is a great football team,” January said.

“Hartley always has been its best later in the season when it counts, and there’s no difference here.