News 25’s 25 Teams in 25 Days: Hancock Hawks
Among the teams not playing in a jamboree on the second to last Friday in August is Hancock. The Hawks are all too familiar with the story, having lost two district games last year due to COVID-19 and are just ready for some normalcy in 2021.
Head Coach Neil Lollar said, “A regular regular season would be really clutch for us right now. That’s big, and a regular week would be great to have, and hopefully starting next week and game one, we can do so.”
Two claps and a Ric Flair for Hancock even finding a way to stay on the practice field amidst virtual learning at the high school. Quarterback Brandon King said, “This Corona stuff has really been messing us up bad. We were lucky to even get a game next week, so we’re just happy with where we are but we’re able to play.”
In what must have felt like a heavy dose of déjà vu for the Hawks, they were able to salvage their week one with a newly scheduled home game against Long Beach in place of PRC.
It’s a drill they know all too well, having been derailed by COVID-19 last season in which they lost back-to-back district games against St. Martin and Gulfport en route to a 3-6 overall record with a mark of 2-4 in league play. Wide receiver/ free safety Finn Cowan said, “Yeah, I think it really did mess us up a lot cause just going that long without practicing and then having to come back and get acclimated to it again. I really think it messed everybody up.”
The Hawks responded as well as any team could have, first losing to region 4 class 6A champion D’Iberville before coming back to spoil Harrison Central’s previously undefeated season with a loud statement win as a part of their 2-1 finish to the year across their final three games. “That gives a lot to the team. We have a lot of confidence, builds everybody up to where they can build off that and go into the next games, go into the next season, really, and play harder, coming off those wins.”
“I think we got that win, put it under our belt and moved on to the next game and just had that momentum going through the summer and here we are now with this season.”
“I was really pleased in all four we played, even though we went 2-2, I thought we responded well. Our kids truly had a full understanding of it can be taken away at any moment and saw the urgency in what each practice meant, not just a game. And I thought we did a great job of improving the last four weeks leading into this, so I’m looking forward to seeing us carry that into this year.”
Looking to keep those winning ways going are 16 seniors and 11 returning starters including four out of five on the offensive line and two of Hancock’s three top rushers from a season ago. The Hawks will once again be a run first team this year, but they can still hurt an opposing defense in more ways than one. Running back/ cornerback Cameron Miller said, “I think we’re going to be really good this year. We’ve got a great O-line, great D-line, great backs, great quarterback.”
“I really like having the choices that I get to look at a guy and if he makes one mistake, it’s probably a touchdown.”
Trips to the endzone are always the expectation in Brett Favre country and so too is a return to the playoffs for the first time since 2017.
From beach workouts in the summer to full pads in the fall, the Hawks are building up to something no player on this year’s varsity team has ever done. “I think it’s really a want of the team. We want to win games. Everybody wants to go to the playoffs, so it’s just kind of like something we all want to do.”
“I think it would mean a lot just to just go off of that and tell everybody that hey, I was that class and all the younger guys under us, they want to do the same thing, and we can maybe keep it going.”
“Each year should be a building program. It doesn’t matter if it’s Year 1 or if it’s Year 20 for a coach or a program of any kind, it’s trying to build those stepping stones to hopefully see where you can get to and hopefully that’s the pinnacle which would be everybody holding up a gold ball, but there’s steps you’ve got to take to get to that, and we’re still gradually building those steps right now.”
Hancock’s motto this year is a simple one: unity. The Hawks kick off the new campaign at home against Long Beach on August 27th.