October 12, 2017

Photo provided
The Horace O'Bryant football team huddles together following its inaugural game on Friday, which was a 39-7 victory at American Heritage.

Photo provided The Horace O'Bryant football team huddles together following its inaugural game on Friday, which was a 39-7 victory at American Heritage.

After more than a year of planning and practicing, along with a few more weeks delay due to Hurricane Irma, the Horace O’Bryant football team had a convincing debut with a 32-point victory in its inaugural game. But Buccaneers coach Drew Haggard said he was quick to remind his players it was just one win and there is still much more work to be done as they will be back on the road today for a 4 p.m. kickoff at Nova.

“I’m so happy for the kids, for the fans, our coaches and our community because the timing of the win was really great with everyone being down and depressed from the storm,” said Haggard. “This was sort of a rallying point for all those families and it just really worked out well.”

HOB scored all 39 of its points before Heritage, which had defeated Belen by 40 points a week prior, could crack the scoreboard.

“I don’t think anybody on our coaching staff was surprised,” said Haggard said about the team’s 39-7 victory against the Patriots. “We have some really good players and we are very confident in our coaches and our coaches’ abilities. We have the best staff you could imagine for a middle school program and we have some players that are really dedicated.”

Initially, HOB was scheduled to play its inaugural game on Sept. 16 at home against Monroe County rival Marathon, which Haggard said, he thought would be a perfect way to kick off the program, but instead now realizes the victory against Heritage was a statement.  

“The ironic thing is that we have been trying real hard to get some games in for the ones that were canceled and I think it may be a bit harder now,” said the coach.

Haggard added that the Heritage coach was very complimentary of the HOB players and staff following the Friday game and was even more surprised to find out it was the first game in the program’s history.

“I told him that these kids have all been playing football for years, but against each other in the city league,” said Haggard. “He said the future for Key West football is very bright and I think he’s right.

 “To see these kids grow and see these kids mature and actually go out there and not be afraid and stand toe-to-toe with American Heritage is incredibly rewarding,” added the coach.

Despite the win in the inaugural game, Haggard said he was quick to remind his players they can not be complacent and, in fact, still have a lot of work to do since more teams will know what to expect from the Buccaneers in the future.

“We kind of grounded them a little today and that’s important as well,” the coach said about Tuesday’s practice. “I think they will be fine. (Monday) I was real disappointed with practice and (Tuesday) was supposed to be a lighter practice, but it turned out to be more of a hammer-and-nails type of practice. But I did that on purpose, because I wanted them to stop listening to everyone tell them how great they are and realize they have a game in two days against someone that doesn’t care who they are. ”

The victory came after not having any film of Heritage to game plan as well as none from Nova for today’s matchup. But Haggard said he fully expects the Titans to have film on the Bucs after the beating they put on the Patriots. Instead of attempting to do anything specific against Nova today, the HOB coaching staff has kept the Buccaneers focused on improving their own game.

As of now, HOB has only two road games left to the season, which could be expanded as the Buccaneers still hope to host a game this year.

jwcooke@keysnews.com