hhs football

Hornet coach Jeff Brumbelow leaps for joy while he and Huntsville players rush the field as time expired after Huntsville's win over Magnolia last Friday.

It’s homecoming in Huntsville, and for football fans who are back here visiting, the Hornets may have a few surprises up their sleeves tonight.

These guys insist they’re not the same Hornets who went 1-9 two years ago. This isn’t even the same team that played for a Class 5A playoff spot in the final week of the season last fall.

The 2006 Hornets say they’re going to live up to their preseason billing and make the playoffs this season, something that hasn’t happened here since 2000.

By taking some lumps over the last two campaigns, the Hornets say they learned some valuable lessons — lessons they believe will help them in their quest to return a once-rich football tradition to Huntsville.

“For a program that’s been down for a while, it’s a big mountain to climb, that mental part of it,” Huntsville coach Mitchell Coey said. “I believe last week’s win will be a catalyst for this football team to step up and continue climbing that mountain.

“Our mindset now, after playing the last two years in 5A, is we can play with anybody. We can go four quarters with anybody, and we can compete.”

Last week, the Hornets proved Coey correct on all three counts.

Huntsville played even with Magnolia, a 5A team, despite five turnovers that could have cost the Hornets dearly. By playing four full quarters, Coey’s scrappy bunch found a way to eke out a 28-24 victory, scoring the winning touchdown with only 11 seconds on the clock.

That’s the kind of Huntsville team that will tackle Henderson tonight at Bowers Stadium. And that’s the kind of football Coey, a proud HHS graduate who knows all about the Hornets’ glory days, has his guys playing.

The Hornets now expect to win, and they walk the halls at HHS holding their heads high.

“It’s a lot different,” senior Dwayne Dunbar said. “All of my teachers told me about last week’s game. They were excited, but they said not to do that again because they were scared. A lot of people around school are excited too, because they believe we’re going to have a great season.”

As nice as last week’s win was, the Hornets say it would be fun to get on a run as they head toward the District 18-4A opener against No. 1 Brenham on Sept. 29.

Henderson, which dropped a 21-0 decision to Carthage last week, won’t be a pushover, though.

“They’re going to come down here and try to spoil our homecoming,” Huntsville’s Trevor Brazil said earlier this week.

Coey said the Lions have the ability to do that, if the Hornets take them lightly, or if Huntsville again has trouble with turnovers.

“They throw the ball a lot, and they’ve got two good receivers,” Coey said of tonight’s opponent. “Their quarterback (Joel Johnson) is a left-hander who’s only 5-10 or 5-11. He’s pretty quick, and they do a lot of bootlegs and a lot of sprint outs because he’s so short.

“Their offense sputtered quite a bit last week, but Carthage is a pretty good football team. They’re a 3A team, but they’ve got some big old’ kids, and some good-looking kids. They pretty much stuffed Henderson.”

Defensively, Coey says, the Lions are loaded with talent.

“It looks like their best athletes are playing defense,” Coey said. “It was 7-0 at the half last week, then right after halftime, they had a bench-clearing fight. That got them out of sync, plus five of their (defensive) starters got kicked out of the game.”

Coey did not know if Henderson coach Dickey Meeks would suspend those five players tonight, but he told the Hornets to prepare as though the Lions were going to be at full strength.

The Hornets say they are simply looking to correct the mistakes they made last week. Do that and the players believe they’ll be just fine.

“I think the whole defense needs to improve,” defensive tackle Aaron Guillory said. “We need to get better. Our tackling was pretty good last week, but we still have a lot of work to do.”

“Our defense in the middle has got to stop the run better,” cornerback Chris Thomas added. “Henderson’s running back is pretty good. He’s got quick feet and hits the holes real fast. Defensively, they swarm to the ball like we do.

“It ought to be a pretty exciting game.”

Hornet football notes and quotes

Additional scouting report on Henderson — Coey said Huntsville’s defense needs to be flexible and ready for anything tonight.

“Henderson gets in the I (formation) some, they run a two tight-end set, they’ll also spread it out some,” Coey said. “It appears that coach (Dickey) Meeks is searching for an identity. He’s trying to find out what his kids can do.”

A week after being manhandled (for the most part) against Magnolia’s big and physical offensive line, the Hornets may have it a little easier tonight. Henderson has two offensive linemen who weigh more than 260 pounds, but the average weight of the Lions’ other three starting linemen is 220 pounds.

“They’re not as big as Magnolia was,” Coey said.

Injury report — Physical workouts are starting to take a toll on the Hornets, who lost one of their starting linebackers to a shoulder injury this week. Charlie Davidson is doubtful for tonight’s game after suffering a slight separation of his left shoulder during practice Tuesday.

Also on Huntsville’s injury list are defensive tackle Aaron Guillory (ankle), Austin Collins (broken foot), Brice Williams (broken collarbone), Riley Smith (ankle) and Broderick Purvis (knee).

Coey said Smith and Purvis will start tonight, but Collins and Williams are out for a few more weeks. Guillory is doubtful for tonight’s game.

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