Our weekly countdown continues. Just 64 days until the start of the 2018 high school football season and 65 until the Harlingen South Hawks hit the field.
After finishing 5-5 in 2016, the Hawks took a step back last year as they went 2-8, beating only McHi in their season opener and Brownsville Rivera in their season finale.
This year the pressure may be on head coach Brian Ricci, who is in his third year as the team’s skipper. The Hawks haven’t made the playoffs since 2013 and if Ricci can’t get the job done this year… Well, like Forrest Gump said, that’s all I’ve got to say about that.
This season the Hawks open things up on the road when they take on Edinburg High on Aug. 31. The Bobcats were 6-5 last year and bi-district finalists where they lost to Los Fresnos.
In Week 2 on Sept. 7, the Hawks host PSJA North, which, like South, finished last season at 2-8.
In Week 3, the Hawks stay at home and host familiar foe McHi in a Thursday night contest on Sept. 13. Last season’s 34-21 win over the Bulldogs was a high point that faded with each of the team’s subsequent eight losses.
Moving on, the Hawks head to Bobby Lackey Stadium in Week 4 on Sept. 21 where they face former District 32-6A rival Weslaco High. Last year the Hawks gave it all they had against the Panthers but came up short in a 28-25 loss.
In Week 5, the Hawks return home and conclude their non-district slate with an interesting matchup against Odessa High in a contest set for 11 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 29.
The Bronchos are a team very similar to the Hawks. They haven’t made the playoffs since 2013, they have a head coach who is in his third year and they also underachieved last season, finishing 3-7.
It’s also somewhat ironic that, like the Hawks, the Bronchos have an intracity rival they have to live in the shadow of. The Hawks have the Cardinals and the Bronchos have the storied Permian Panthers.
Just in case you were wondering, Permian leads the series over Odessa High 45-13-1. Also, just a fun fact, Bronchos head coach Danny Servance is a 1986 Permian graduate and was a member of the Panthers’ 1984 state championship team.
OK, enough about Odessa, let’s get back to the Hawks.
After a bye week, the Hawks return to action with back-to-back home games in Week Seven and Week Eight.
On Oct. 12 they host Los Fresnos, who they lost to last year 35-7, and on Oct. 19 they take on San Benito, which beat the Hawks 48-16 a year ago.
In Week Nine, the Hawks hit the road and take on Brownsville Rivera in another Thursday night game. Last season the Hawks beat the Raiders 31-6.
Hopefully, the Hawks can get out of Brownsville with a win because they just might need the momentum as on Nov. 2 they are the home team in this year’s Bird Bowl. Last year, Harlingen beat the Hawks 36-7 to give the Cards their 10th straight win in the intracity rivalry. The last time South beat Harlingen was in 2007 and the Cards lead the series 21-4.
Finally, the Hawks conclude the regular season on Nov. 9 at Brownsville Hanna, which beat South last year 21-17 en route to a playoff berth.
So, will this be the Hawks’ year to soar? Man, I wish I could speed up time and find out.
2018 Hawks schedule
-Aug. 31: at Edinburg High
-Sept. 7: PSJA North
-Sept. 13: McAllen High
-Sept. 21: at Weslaco High
-Sept. 29: Odessa High
-Oct. 5: OPEN
*Oct. 12: Los Fresnos
*Oct. 19: San Benito
*Oct. 25: at Brownsville Rivera
*Nov. 2: vs. Harlingen High
*Nov. 9: at Brownsville Hanna