Howard didn’t play a perfect game last week against Lamar County.
Mistakes were made. Momentum shifted after a strong first half, and Lamar County rallied from a two-touchdown halftime deficit. But there was something that came out of that second half that head coach Barney Hester saw as a positive.
Simply put, Howard didn’t quit.
The Huskies didn’t let Lamar County take the lead, and they prevented last year’s GHSA Class AA runner-up from recording a game-winning score on the Trojans’ final drive. Sure, Howard’s players and coaches wanted the win, but preserving the tie at 19 was a positive step for a program that had never won more than three games in a season in its short history.
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“This school has seen a lot of adversity in its past and didn’t handle it well,” Hester said. “Our team now is totally different. We realize that there is going to be adversity every game. Things are not going to go your way every play. But how you handle that adversity is what’s important, and I think our kids did a pretty good job with that the other night.”
Now Howard has a trip to FPD on its plate, the first time the Huskies -- or any Bibb County public school team -- will face the Vikings in a varsity game.
The game’s place in the history of Middle Georgia athletics has been well established. It will be the first time in nearly 50 years that a Bibb County public school will take on one of the county’s private school teams in a game that counts in the standings.
The game has the potential to be very competitive. FPD, which has experienced players in the skill positions offensively, goes up against a Howard defensive front that shut down Lamar County’s run game during the first half last week.
Led by 17 tackles from senior linebacker Abel Grant, Howard’s defense held Lamar County to 43 yards and three first downs in the first half. While the Trojans started to break some runs open in the second half, finishing with 257 yards on 51 carries, only three of those carries went for more than 20 yards -- and just one of those long runs went for a touchdown.
“They have two pretty big dudes at tackle that are going to be tough to deal with,” FPD quarterback Will McCormick said.
One area in which Howard wasn’t tested extensively last week was in the passing game. Lamar County attempted just five passes, completing none. Howard intercepted one of those attempts.
Howard’s secondary likely will see more passes this week. McCormick threw for 1,154 yards and nine touchdowns last season as a sophomore.
“We’ve reached a point where we’ve had a scrimmage and got to see some things that we need to see,” said FPD head coach Greg Moore, whose team will be taking part in its season opener. “We made some corrections along the way, and we’re at a point just like everybody else, where we’re ready to play.”
The Huskies’ offense, meanwhile, is looking to tighten things up. Howard turned the ball over three times last week, including a muff on a punt return that led to a Lamar County touchdown.
“(Last week) went well, but we just need to come out harder and fight harder,” said Howard quarterback Courvosier King, who completed 5-of-10 passes for 82 yards and rushed for two touchdowns against Lamar County. “They fought hard, but we just have to fight harder and not make the mistakes that we did.”