KILN, Miss. (WLOX) - Three days separate the Hancock Hawks from a new season.
“They’re excited, you know. We’re all excited that it’s finally game week and we can actually play ball this week,” fourth-year head coach Neil Lollar told WLOX.
However, three wins would’ve had them squarely in the playoff picture. Their 4-7 record in 2019 is a bit misleading when considering the fact they fell to Harrison Central in overtime and lost to Gulfport by only three.
“We were a few plays away in about three ball games. I’m sure every coach could’ve said the same to a certain extent,” Lollar said. “Fourth quarter and we had a turnover or a mishap or something, you know? Some fine tuning on that and if we do I think those three wins would be there.”
The win total should improve this year with quarterback Sema’J Robertson back for his senior season. After leading the team in total yardage with 1804, the dual-threat athlete is prepared for year two with the Hawks.
“Run my reads. Like my reads and all that stuff,” Robertson said. “Ball security, so that’s really all I had to do last year.”
“We ran him last year and we were able to throw and use our backs to accent,” Lollar added. “He’s allowed us to be able to expand a little bit our offense and have a few different things we were not able to do last year or even the year before.”
The Hawks will be young up front, having just one returning starter for the offensive line. They will likely look to their veteran defensive line for depth to start the season.
“It’s pure speed from what we had before, everybody’s quicker on both sides of the line actually. Speed is where we’re at right now, we’re quick now,” junior defensive end Da’Kyre Smith told WLOX. “Hancock prides itself on doing a lot of conditioning. Fourth quarter is our quarter. When all the teams are gassed out, that’s when we really punch it.”
However, the biggest playmaker won’t be taking the field. The Hawks recently moved into their new state-of-the-art field house, a motivating factor for not just this season, but for the future of the program.
“Everything in there is just luxury, you know. From the lockers to the new training room. More guys can get their reps in,” Smith said. “I’m glad that we can experience what those older guys put there for us, but yeah just luxury.”
“They’re going to feel the H man, they’re going to feel the H,” Robertson said.
The Hawks open up the 2020 season on September 4th at Gautier and seek to put an end to their streak of back-to-back 4-7 seasons.