Going into the 2020 season, there was a lot of unknown items shadowing the Hackett Sr High Hornets. Moving up to a new conference in the 3A along with trying to figure out how or if they would have games and everything from practices to game days being up in the air. But this is Hackett Hornet football! Nothing would stop them from playing the game they love. Anyone, anyhow, or anyway, the Hornets were determined to play.
Hackett started the season off with three dominant performances over Panama and Pocola then whipped up on Lavaca 40-13 in their conference opener. The Hornets even went toe to toe and blow for blow with a Cedarville team dubbed to be on the verge of greatness. Although the Hornets were edged out by a single touchdown against the Pirates, Hackett put the rest of the 3A on notice. Unfortunately, every team in the 3A1 has what is known as the midseason “Death Row” on their schedule where they have three to four games in a row against top-notch opponents.
The Hornets “Death Row” started against Cedarville followed by Charleston, West Fork, and Greenland giving them a four-game losing streak. That streak would come to an end though when the Hornets defeated their rivals, the Mansfield Tigers, in a 60-46 shootout for the final game of the regular season. “We were very proud of our guys’ hard work and effort this year. They stayed together through several close tough games. We had some bright spots and we showed we can compete in this conference,” head coach Michael Meador stated.
Ending the season with a victory over their rivals was a big boost for Hackett, but with a 2-4 conference record and a pandemic on the rise, the question was, would they be able to make the playoffs in their first year of being in the 3A. That answer was quickly answered when news broke that Hackett had a shot to earn their way in. In their playoff bid game, they squared off against Mountain View and proved yet again that they could get the job done as they scored a 38-20 win. “We had a big win against Mountain View to win our first playoff win in 3A. It was a long trip and our players stayed ready for the game the whole way. The players played and never gave up. That is why we were able to win our first playoff game.”
The Sr Hornets road to State would end in their next game though against one of Arkansas premier 3A programs, the Booneville Bearcats. Hackett may have been outsized and outmatched, but if you watched the game, you would notice they gave everything they had and never backed down. Ending the season with a 5-6 overall record and making it to two State playoff games isn’t something any team should be ashamed of. Especially when you factor in that this was their first year in a bigger conference along with the pandemic chaos that the Hornets faced each and every week.
“This was a very crazy season. Every week we did not know until the game started if we would even play that week. We could get a call at any time and not be able to play. There were all kinds of distractions that could have pulled our players’ focus away, but they always stayed on the task at hand. We are very proud of our kids for continuing to fight all year. They never backed down once against any team we played this season. We will continue to build on the positives from this season and prepare hard this off-season for next year!”
Photos courtesy of Mandy Foster and Michael Meador