HAMILTON — Ray Weeks has a valuable lesson for his Hamilton High School football team: One week is just a start.
Weeks only needs to look back to the 2010 season to provide proof for his players. A year ago, Hamilton blanked Weir 42-0 in its season opener and squandered the momentum the following week in a 15-12 loss to Smithville.
But Weeks feels the 2011 Lions are more mature and experienced to handle the attention that has come on the heels of their 42-0 victory against Smithville on Friday.
“You”re always pleased to get that first one under your belt, but now you have to guard against feeling you”re too good,” Weeks said. “I think the guys are focused and not looking ahead or behind. It is a good, mature group.”
The matchup attracted a lot of attention in this part of the state due to the fact that Smithville is recovering from a tornado that ripped through the community April 27 and devastated the school.
Hamilton handled its Monroe County neighbors thanks in large part to its running game. Senior Cojuante McMillian had 72 rushing yards and two touchdowns. He also returned the opening kickoff 70 yards for another score. Quinshay Heard and Caleb Garvin added touchdown runs, and Deion Howard caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Zarrat Sims to account for the scoring.
Weeks was impressed with his offense, but he knows a test at 7:30 p.m. Friday at home vs. Houlka and ones coming up against Kossuth, Hatley, Houston, and Walnut will be enough to keep his players from getting too overconfident. He hopes some of the younger players who emerged in the opener continue to develop.
In an attempt to fuel that maturation, Weeks and the coaches reminded the players they were in the same position last season. He feels this year”s group has good chemistry and has a “different mind-set” and won”t fall into the “trap” they fell into last year.
“I really believe they know they have the ability to do something and to give this community something to be proud of that hasn”t been done here in a long time,” Weeks said.
Hamilton lost to Calhoun City in the first round of the Class 2A North State playoffs last season. It also lost a first-round game to Leflore County in 2008.
Weeks hopes this year”s team can capitalize on its variety of weapons and reach back into the Hamilton High football tradition and pull out something special.
“We have talked to them about it that I think this community is starving for a successful football program year in and year out,” Weeks said. “A lot of these kids” parents played on those teams, and obviously they want to see their sons be successful like that, too. I think this team could be the one to set that bar. Whether that happens or not, I don”t know, but they have the ability and the chance to do it.”
Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.