The Hannibal football team is coming off a state quarterfinal appearance in Class 4. Two all-state performers from that team are now at NCAA Division I schools. What does that mean for a team facing one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the state? The Pirates have to reload, something they believe they are capable of doing.
Here’s what Hannibal coach Mark St. Clair had to say about his team:
“We have to play physical to be successful. To play at that level, we need to be able to compete with the best in the state. You’ve got to hit, you’ve got to be able to run the ball and you’ve got to stop the run. Those are our goals. We’re not dismissing the pass or the ability to defend the pass. You have to be able to throw the football. But there’s nothing like physical football to set teams on their heels, to set the tone, and let them understand we’re going to play 48 minutes of hard-nosed football.
“We’ve got quite a schedule. It’s one of those things where we have to play those who will play us. Generally, the people who want to play us are schools who think they can beat us. That’s generally bigger schools or schools with good programs. We want to play good competition, and I’ll put our non-conference schedule up against anybody.
“Honestly, those are the types of games we need to play. Teams can develop bad habits if they win early and they have just out-athleted everybody. That’s not going to be the case with us. We’re going to have to play well. If we make mistakes early on, we’re going to pay for it, and it’s going to show on film. Hopefully, we’ll learn from it.
“The offense is going to revolve around Shamar (Griffith), but it doesn’t stop there. We have our top five running backs return, and we have a quarterback who played enough and has enough experience that it’s like having a starter back. The biggest thing about this year’s team — as opposed to the last few — is we’ll be able to stretch the field because we have some wide receivers who can stretch the field and have good hands. We will be a threat vertically as well as horizontally.
“I like this team’s enthusiasm. They come to work. They punch the time clock. Every team is a little different, and this team likes practicing a little bit. Not every team is like that. They come out here and they punch the clock. Whether we get 2, 2 1/2 or 3 hours of practice, we’re getting good work in. The pace of our practice is high, and they are holding each other accountable.”