Heading into the 2021 season, like most teams the Hawley Bearcats are working to find ways to replace seniors who graduated the year prior. For the Bearcats, that means they have to focus on replacing key linemen, on both side of the line of scrimmage.
Head Coach Mitch Ables says, “That’s small school football you know? We had a lot fo returning lineman last year, this year we’ve got a lot of returning skill guys, and we’ve gotta fill some voids on the line. So that’s why a coaches job never stops i guess. You’ve gotta find some guys to fill in those holes, and you know that’s what two-a-days and pre-district is for.”
Ables and his coaching staff pride themselves on building a strong, physical football team, and that identity is something his players don’t plan to lose despite all the changes in the trenches.
Corley Williams says, “The bar is set high every year for us and I mean, for us not to be able to step up and be physical on both sides of the ball, to me that’s embarassing. We have to be able to come out and just play smack mouth football.”
Ables added, “The most physical team is usually the one that wins, and that’s what we try to do. We try to hammer it out in the weight room on that toughness every day
A major part of Hawley’s physical style of play, is a mean downhill running attack, and that’s where junior Austin Cumpton comes into play. He’s a leaders for the Bearcats both on and off the field.
Austin Cumpton says, “It’s a great feeling having the trust from the coaches and being able to preform for them. I’ve got my offensive line and I trust those guys. So when they do their job, I can do mine.”
“You know those older guys that are juniors and seniors this year are like having coaches on the field, said Ables. So that’s important that he’s been through it and he knows what’s going on. He has confidence and it rubs off on everybody else.”
The Bearcats are searching for their fourth consecutive district title, and all the hard work they’re putting in now, has them well on their way.
Corley Williams says, “I think mindset has a lot to do with this kind of stuff. If you come out saying you’re the best, come out playing hard and everything, then there’s not much the other team can do about it.”
Austin Cumpton says, “A District Title is good and all, that’s great to do that, but we want to go even bigger than that this year and get that state.”
It’s going to be a challenge. The Bearcats start the year ranked ninth in the state.
The season gets started in Roscoe.