Rick Hutson’s birthday was earlier this week, and there is only one present that is on the Highland Baptist head football coach’s wish list.
He wants his team to play its first game tonight.
“I’m going to say ‘yes,’” Hutson said. “That we will play our first game, but we haven’t had anything go our way in a long time. The Thursday before our scrimmage, we had a player test positive (for COVID-19).
“Because of his close proximity to others, we had to shut down the whole thing. We then had another player and our offfensive line coach test positive.”
Highland closed its doors shortly after that and instituted virtual learning while the outbreak subsided.
“We missed our scrimmage and the first game,” Hutson said. “Then we had the second game scheduled last week, and the hurricane came through. There was no way we were going to be able to get ready to play by Wednesday last week.”
If things go aS Hutson plans, the Bears will entertain Westminster Academy (1-1) tonight.
“Here we are in Week 3, getting ready to play our first game,” the HBCS coach said. “We’re excited that we’re getting to play, but we’re also anxious. We surprised Westminster last year. They were 4-0. We were 1-3.
“We had gotten beaten 40-something to zero two weeks in a row leading up to that game, and we didn’t look too good on film going into that one.”
Hutson said the Bears have made strides in practice.
“We practiced last Wednesday and it wasn’t a good practice,” he said. “Yesterday (Monday) was a little better. Today we started remembering more.
“The thing about football - when you have small numbers like us — it’s hard to simulate game situations in practice. If there’s a positive, it’s that we’re healthy and not beat-up.”
Will the Bears look like it’s their season opener vs. a team playing its third game?
“One thing we’re kind of battling is illegal procedure penalties,” Hutson said. “We need to minimize mistakes. Those things tend to get worked out as the season goes along. We’re also trying to find the right emotional level. We don’t want to be too excited about it being our first game. We need to try to play under control.
“Of course, conditioning is a concern. Westminster has had three weeks to play into shape. Last Wednesday, we started back in school after the virtual learning while we were in quarantine. That makes it hard to build momentum for anybody. If it’s not COVID-19, it’s the weather. It’s already been a crazy year and it’s gotten even crazier.”