The Hamilton Hornets football team is looking to make a buzz in Class 1 this season as it looks to improve on a 9-4 season that ended in the state quarterfinals against KCI rival Mid-Buchanan.
While it’s too early to determine how the season will turn out, head coach Caleb Obert is satisfied with the effort given by his team this far.
“The kids are embracing their time so far,” Obert said. “We lost a lot of talented seniors from last year, and the guys that are coming back have brought the effort and work ethic it takes to be successful. So right now I like where the kids’ minds are at.”
The Hornets lost nine seniors from last season, but they will be replaced with the exact same number of seniors for this coming season. While there will be enough seniors to cover one side of the ball, it is looking to be more of a younger-reliant team.
Senior Ryan Cook is one of the returning starters and has been the quarterback for the Hornets since the district championship game in 2017. Cook understands there will be a lot of underclassmen looking to have bigger roles for the Hornets this fall.
“They got to be able to step up and have to be a bigger part of the team than they’re ready for at their age,” Cook said. “But they’re eager to learn it and I’m going to help them work and understand how big a part they’re gonna be this year.”
In Cook’s first full season as the starting quarterback, he threw for 1,202 yards and 12 passing touchdowns while also rushing for 625 yards and four rushing touchdowns last season. He also lead the team to a deep playoff run and is looking forward to getting a rematch against Mid-Buch on Nov. 27.
“It definitely always helps, because you always wanna beat the team that beat you the year before, so it will definitely help motivate us to try and show we are working to get better than last year,” Cook said.
While Hamilton lost to Mid-Buchanan in the postseason, the team also lost to three other KCI opponents over the course of last season. Hamilton was defeated by Lawson, Lathrop and East Buchanan, as the Hornets ended their season fourth in the conference.
“That is a huge testament what our conference is,” Obert said. “There really isn’t a week on the schedule where you can kind of ease up on our guys. Every school we play in our conference is a good opponent, and if you let up you are going to come up with a loss.”
Hamilton is known for its success on the football field in previous history. They last won the state championship back in 2016 and have won four overall since 2009.
“It takes a special team to complete that task and it is not easy. We have a lot of talent returning but you have to have a lot of things go your way deep in the playoffs, you got to stay healthy, you got to. You just have to have that grind attitude where each week you are ready to play and enjoy the ride,” Obert said.
This group of seniors were freshmen the last time the team brought home a championship banner and have learned what the winning culture is all about.
“It’s great to know we can be great contenders every year, no matter how much we change as a team, we can still come together and figure out what we need to do to win games,” senior middle linebacker Eli Harper said. “But, if we don’t, we know what we have to take from those losses in order to get better. Watching and being a part of this team is a blessing, and our team just knows how to fight through adversity.”
Hamilton will kick off its regular season against Maysville Friday, Aug. 30.