By Bryan Davis
When the 2010 season started, Hebron head coach Greg Watkins knew that the first few weeks were going to be tough. Although numbers were up for the Eagles, the roster began with less than 20, and the team needs the first few games to adjust before district play starts.
That’s still about a month away, and the Eagles are a good ways from being ready to compete for a playoff spot, but they are getting there, week by week and quarter by quarter.
“If we were playing conference right now, I wouldn’t think we’d have a chance,” Watkins said. “By the time we get to district play, they know and I know we’re going to be a different team.”
What Watkins and his coaches are looking for is an Eagle team that is both mentally and physically prepared for its opponent. Watkins admits that part is a improved,” Watkins said of his team on Wednesday. “During that first game against Newton, we were nowhere mentally prepared for their physicality.”
The Eagles put week-one’s 38-0 loss to Newton behind them and prepared themselves for a home match against DeSoto. The Eagles got on the board for the first time this season, but the lone touchdown was about all there was for Hebron, as the Eagles lost 41-8.
They came back to practice this week, more pumped than ever, trying to get ready for a big road game at West Memphis Christian.
“We’re working on a lot of defense,” Watkins said. “This is a game we feel like we have a good shot of winning. West Memphis has had about 100 points scored on them in the last two weeks.”
West Memphis has been outscored 106-6, while the Eagles have been outgunned 80-8. Watkins says that the offense should be ready for a bigger game this Friday.
“We’re getting a little bit of offense, gradually moving the ball,” Watkins said. “We got 140 yards Friday night. We’re getting a little bit more confidence there.”
Watkins said that the plan going in to this season was to get better every week, and he says that’s exactly what he sees out of his team.
“We’re improving in different places,” Watkins said. “Kids who have not played in a while are catching up with the game.”
Watkins says that his players were fully aware of the rebuilding process the team is going through right now, and they have responded remarkably to it.
“They know where we are and where we stand and what our goal is,” Watkins said. “I’ve told them not to give up on themselves, and I’m not giving up on them.”
Despite only one touchdown in two games, the Eagles have kept their heads high, and they are determined to turn things around.
“They’ve come with a pretty good attitude,” Watkins said. “We’ve had a good week of practice this week.”
Watkins said that during Tuesday’s practice, one which is typically hardest due to the running involved, the Eagle players came out, ready to go the extra mile. Instead of doing the usual 40-40s, he said his players decided to run 100-10 yard sprints.
“They really enjoyed the change,” Watkins said. “I couldn’t ask for better attitudes for the situation we’re in right now.”
Watkins is hoping that energy will transfer into Friday night’s game against West Memphis.
“This week will be a good one to improve more and to gain a little confidence too,” Watkins said. “I’m hoping we can go up there and have a good showing.”
Coming into practice this week, Will Corbin Rogers (Hip Pointer) and Ryan Moore (Ankle) were still injured, but Watkins says both are about 80 percent and should be ready to go soon.