Lions look to rebound in 1A playoff opener

Football stockBy Brandon Speck

Daily Journal

Hamilton didn’t win Division 1-1A. But the Lions came out of nowhere to have a chance.

Hamilton finished 8-3 – an unexpected result only outside of Hamilton – and third in the division after a loss at division champ Coffeeville on Friday. It had a chance to win the division outright after beating Monroe rival Smithville the week before.

“We knew we could be pretty good,” Hamilton coach Ray Weeks said. “We knew we’d have to have some guys step up and play. They’re very determined in what they want to accomplish.”

Hamilton opens the MHSAA Class 1A playoffs Friday at Mound Bayou JFK, the team that ended its season in this round in Class 2A last season.

Weeks was confident his team could rebound from last season’s 4-8 finish. They had the offensive potential with quarterback Quinshay Heard, backs Keshon Heard and Pallas Fair and receiver Tanner Dement.

One concern was production up front.

That was aided when starting center Nick Owens returned after sitting out his junior year. Wesley Fikes stepped up at left guard and Blake Pritchett at left tackle. Senior Dominique Dobbs has been a front staple since his freshman season.

“We’ve just had a few guys that just stepped up to the plate and came through, ” Weeks said. “And you’ve got a little bit of depth there, too from some younger guys. It’s been a real positive thing.”

Hamilton didn’t have much go right last season, particularly healthwise – Quinshay Heard missed eight weeks after separating his shoulder.

That happened this season, as well, just not all year. Five starters were missing in a loss at Falkner. But things straightened out and Hamilton won five in a row before Friday.

“We’ve had some things go our way, but I think that’s a tribute to them and their attitude. It’s just been great,” Weeks said. “They play hard for each other and they tell each other that, ‘I’m going to play hard for you, today.’”

brandon.speck@journalinc.com