Prior to this year, North Hardin football had not lost a regular-season game since the 2018 season. Fast-forward to week 5 of the 2021 season and it’s a different story.
The Trojans enter week 5 with three losses and having lost two straight.
They also came into this week expecting a home game tonight, but COVID had other plans. Instead, North Hardin is back on the road and heading to Danville to take on the Admirals after a game with John Hardin was called off due to COVID-related issues.
“(Danville) is a well-storied program. I know (Danville coach Mark Peach) their new head coach personally,” North Hardin coach Brent Thompson said. “They had a thing fall through for them and obviously ours had fallen through, a game that we always want to play, but it just works out. The best thing is that our kids get to play the game.”
All three of the Trojans’ losses this season have come on the road, starting with their season opener against South Warren and most recently in the last two weeks against DuPont Manual and Apollo. The chance to get back in front of their home crowd this week was taken away on Monday, when they learned they would not be able to play the Bulldogs.
Despite the setbacks, Thompson has seen his players handle these various setbacks as best as they possibly could over the last few weeks. It hasn’t been easy as of late, but morale is still high among the Trojans, Thompson said.
“Honestly last week, the loss was very tough. It was a game that we felt like we should’ve won and we didn’t come out in the end, but we felt like coming into this week, with it being John, that our kids would be focused. We knew that they would be more attentive, just because of the rivalry game,” Thompson said. “Then finding out late Monday afternoon that it was canceled was tough for them, but one thing I told them when it happened was that we’re gonna continue to work on us, that’s who has to get better, and then also the fact that I was gonna do everything I could to find them a game.”
They have one now as Wednesday evening. Now it’s a matter of getting back to where the bar has been set.
For the seniors and juniors that are a part of this year’s group in particular, watching that streak go by the wayside has been tough to swallow.
“One thing they always try to do is continue to talk. They try to tell the other kids this is not our kind of thing,” Thompson said. “There are some other kids that have left that have come back and talked to them and said this is not the standard we set. We’ve gotta get off the losing slide. They want to continue to live to the legacy that was left before them. …They realize that people have paved the way from where we were to where hopefully our program stays, so we want to continue to do the things we need to do.”
These conversations have led to additional leadership being shown through words among many players, he said. Others have led more by example, he added.
There is still work to be done, of course, but from Thompson’s vantage point, seeing players hold each other accountable is a step in the right direction.
“One of the things is that they own what they did. A lot of them said ‘I made a mistake on this play’. … We’ve had some other guys say we need to pick it up and say that ‘Hey, this is on us.’ ,” he said. “A lot of it’s been positive as far as that goes.”
The next step for this year’s Trojan squad is to back up these tough conversations with their play on both sides of the ball moving forward.
“We’ve gotta get going offensively. We’ve struggled a little bit here lately, but one thing we continue to do is try to put our players in position to make it happen. Then also, we need to continue to get better on defense. I think (Apollo) scored two out of the first three series last week, then our defense played pretty well. We bent, but didn’t break,” Thompson said. “We’ve also gotta continue to trust in each other and make plays when we have to make plays.”
Tonight’s game is set to start at 7:30.