HANCEVILLE — Hanceville’s football team is going down its own beaten path once again this fall.
Two years ago, the Bulldogs lost their first three games of the 2012 season before reeling off seven straight wins and a playoff berth. In 2013, they dropped their second contest of the campaign and then took off on an eight-game streak to seal up a region title and yet another postseason bid.
So far in 2014, Hanceville (0-2) has come up short to Fairview (27-12) and Winston County (41-12) and is without question trying hard to find its first win of the year against Vinemont on Friday evening in order to avoid a tough 0-3 start.
The Purple and Gold’s backs are against the wall, even if history happens to be on its side.
“I hope the kids are thinking about that, drawing on it,” coach Danny Miller said of the recent turnarounds. “We’ve been here before and we have been able to turn it all around. Falling 0-2 in a region puts you in a hole that has been awfully hard to climb out of in the past. We’d rather not do that if we can help it.”
When the Bulldogs travel up the road to take on the Eagles, they’ll be trying to win their fifth straight against their county rival — having earned sublime victories each of the past four seasons.
“We’ve played well against those guys in the past,” Miller said. “It’s not too big a secret what they want to do and what we want to do. They’re a good team this year. We need to be able to line up, stop them and run the ball a good amount.”
That being said, Miller knows his Dawg squad will certainly need to be leaps and bounds better than its been the first two weeks of the season, even in its jamboree game.
Turnovers, penalties and inexperience at crucial positions have plagued the Purple and Gold at key times during contests.
“We can’t keep doing those things,” Miller lamented. “It puts our defense in bad situations. If we can go out on Friday and play a good, clean game, I am 100 percent sure it would help our chances immensely.
Senior athlete Dant’e Reese has been a force for Miller at running back and linebacker through two games. The two-way player was a sophomore when the Bulldogs started 0-3 and knows his team should probably have a little pep in its step come Friday.
“There’s a little urgency, a little pressure,” he said. “We’ve just got to come out and play hard. Play Hanceville football. This is nothing we haven’t been through before. We overcame that adversity and we’ll overcome it this time, too.”
For the first time all fall, Hanceville won’t be going up against a team that “likes to throw it all over the field.” Instead, they face an Eagle squad that, much like the Dawgs, line up and run the ball right at you.
Whichever team can move the ball most effectively and force the other to change up its gameplan will have the key edge, according to Miller.
Despite the Xs and Os, the longtime coach said the coaches and kids are excited for what has been one of the fiercest county games over the past few seasons.
“It’s one of those games where our guys know their guys and their guys know our guys,” Miller said. “They’re all pumped up for it. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get the win on Friday. The kids have had a great week of practice and I’m sure they’ll be ready to play come gametime.”