The HHS football program has transformed quite a lot in the past few years, and perhaps its most significant change is the team of 2017 versus the one of 2018. The 2017 team dropped a game to start the season, but then went on a tear for the rest of the year, utterly dominating their conference with a 4-0 record without allowing a single point scored against them in conference play. They developed an overall 8-2 record with several landslide victories, with their only other loss in the state championship game. Both games they lost were only one score games, showing how even in a loss they were competing in each game they played. This is a far cry from the 2018 Mariners, who currently hold a 1-6 record with their lone victory coming against the regular punching bag of the conference, the Seward Seahawks.
“It’s definitely tough.” said senior captain Jadin Mann when asked on the difference between the two years, “Going from being on top of the world last year to barely getting a win against somebody like Seward is really upsetting. Losing all those seniors last year really hurt us.”
The Mariners graduated nine seniors last year, with eight of those starting on almost all aspects of the field (offense, defense, and special teams). Three of those eight went on to play football at the collegiate level, but perhaps the thing that hurt the current team the most was graduating that much leadership and fraternity.
“We’ve all been playing together for at least a year before the state run.” said former senior starter and now linebacker coach Sean Love on what made last year’s team successful. “We were all friends and had a lot of unspoken communication, a lot of chemistry on the field. We all made each other better players.”
Walter Love, head coach of the team, also knows how much those seniors meant to the team. “Those boys were the heart and soul of this team,” he said. “Losing that much passion in one year is very hard to make up for.”
The leadership of the team has fallen to the now diminished upperclassmen, with only five seniors and three juniors on the team with a surplus of sophomores and freshmen. However the future looks brighter for this team.
“Obviously it didn’t go well for us this year. But honestly I could see this team being pretty good next year and even better the year after that if these same guys keep playing together and build that skill and chemistry we had last year,” Jadin said on the the future of the team.
With limited senior starters leaving and more and more younger players showing up to play, learn and grow with each other, the Mariner’s fortune could be changing very soon.