25 Teams in 25 Days: Hancock Hawks

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Normally dubbed a Christmas in July kind of holiday, this year’s first official day of MHSAA sanctioned practice falls on August 5th.

After waiting more than nine months for this day to come, what’s another half hour lightning delay at Hancock High School?

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The Hawks are stop number 11 on News 25’s ’25 Teams in 25 Days’ and now that they’re finally on the field, they are ready to prove that 2017 was no fluke.

Tight-end Jordan Foushee said, “It’s great. We’ve been waiting on this ever since the last buzzer from the last game against Pascagoula. We’ve been waiting for this day to come.”

Rain or shine, this year’s clean slate has been a long time coming for Hancock football. Running back Sebastian Fausett said, “The energy is excited. And we’re just ready for the season. Ready to go on the field, show what we’ve got. Prove that last year was a flop and rebuild from there.”

In 2017, the Hawks took their district by storm, posting an overall record of 10-3 including the program’s first home playoff victory since 1990 and the first post-season win by any team from Region 4 class 6A since 2014.

They followed that up with last year’s mark of 4-7. Right tackle Christian Sapp said, “We weren’t in the right mind space. We weren’t focused on that every week is a new game. We didn’t focus on that 0-0. We got a little distant with that, so that definitely could be taken into consideration.”

Led by their 25-plus seniors and 100 percent retention rate on the varsity coaching staff, the Hawks are now focused solely on being both winless and undefeated every week of the 2019 season. Head Coach Neil Lollar said, “This is huge. Because last year is last year. We have a saying you get 24 hours after a game to hash it out either win or a loss, and then you’re back to 0-0. Well, you’re truly at 0-0 right now and that’s a big thing for these guys and this group and the returning guys from last year.”

“You’re only as good as your weakest link, and you have to start from zero to go up. You have to hit rock bottom before you go up.”

Rock bottom would have been Hancock’s 0-7 stretch during the middle of the season, sandwiched in between two straight wins at both the beginning and end of the 2018 campaign. In an effort to recapture some of that magic from Coach Lollar’s first year as head coach, the Hawks are rallying behind the motto: ‘Our Time, Our Journey.’ “It’s not on me. It’s not on them. It’s about us and about doing it on our time, and that time is on Friday nights.”

“To me, our time is it’s not just one individual. This is a team effort. It’s our time, and it’s our journey to go through these steps and to do everything we need to do. So we’re not doing it as an individual, we’re doing it as a team. It’s our time.”

Last month, the Hawks were given a new outlook on the concept of time, following the tragic passing of Emily Kathryn Goss, rising senior and Hancock cheer captain. With her initials going on each player’s helmet this season, she’ll be with them on that journey every step of the way. “Every time I touch the ball, it’s going to be for her. Every time I make a touchdown, score and point up, it’s for her.”

The Hawks will pay further tribute to Emily during their September 6th home game versus Gautier in the form of a teal out, one of her favorite colors.

Hancock opens up the 2019 season on August 23rd at home against Pearl River Central.

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A native of Pass Christian and a St. Stanislaus alum, Jeff Haeger comes to News 25 from right in our backyard. He most recently spent more than three years working as the sports reporter for WHLT-TV in Hattiesburg, where he provided extensive coverage of his alma mater, The University of Southern Mississippi. At Southern Miss, Jeff was a member of the Honors College and graduated with a B.A. degree in Broadcast Journalism with a minor in Spanish. He also wrote for USM's award-winning school newspaper, The Student Printz, where he won first place for Best Sports Story in 2013. Jeff loves to travel, and is excited to get back on the water to reunite with his family. In his spare time you can find Jeff spending time with his friends, and maybe even winning a fantasy football league. For sports stories contact Jeff at jhaeger@wxxv25.com.