The 2018 season was a tale of two halves for the Huntingdon Hawks football team, which finished 4-5 after an 0-4 start.
“We struggled,” coach Mike Turk said. “We turned it around and closed pretty well, but we had already dug ourselves a deep hole.
“We were a very young football team early in the season last year,” the coach continued. “We had our struggles, obviously, but we do have a lot of guys that played for us last year. They’re a little more mature and a year stronger and ready for that responsibility.”
The 2018 season had a bit of a false start as the season-opener at Guilford College was declared a “no contest” because of extended weather delays and was not counted as an official game.
With Huntingdon leading 58-48 with 13 minutes to play, the game was suspended because of lightning. After close to a three-hour delay and no sign of the weather improving, the decision was made to declare the game a “no contest.”
The Hawks open the 2019 season at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, hosting Guilford.
Alabama NewsCenter: What is the outlook for this season?
Mike Turk: That’s a great question. When you’re coming off a year like that, of course, it was disappointing. I think the attitude was pretty strong around here during the offseason, as far as trying to get the ship righted, so to speak. We still have some questions that are unanswered as far as some of our personnel goes. But I like the approach that our team took in the offseason. I’m excited about getting out there and seeing where we are.
ANC: What is the strength of this year’s team?
Turk: Well, probably on the offensive side of the ball, (where) we return most of our skill. Our quarterback is back, our top wide receiver is back and our top running back is back as well two other kids who played a great deal for us at that position, and some depth at wide receiver as well. We lost two offensive lineman, two starting offensive linemen. Three of those guys are back. Defensively, a lot of our kids are back as well.
ANC: Who are your team’s standouts?
Turk: On offense, our quarterback Michael Lambert is back. He’s a kid that started every game for us last year. He’s a second-team all-conference guy. And then Otis Porter is our top receiver. Actually, he was set to be a senior last year and ended up being redshirted because he was hurt all season and really didn’t get to play. Then Eric Thomas, who was our starting tailback, was a first-team all-conference guy for us last year, is back as well. And then on the defensive side, we lose a guy that was our all-time leading tackler. Trey Hayes, middle linebacker, was an All American and was a guy we had grown to count on a great deal. We’re having to replace him. You really don’t replace a guy like that with one player usually. Those guys are special. That being said, Ahmaud Taylor is back for us in the secondary, as is Ke’Darius Thornton. Those two guys — Ke’Darius being a corner — are guys that really as the season progressed last year became playmakers for us on that side of the ball.
ANC: What games do your fans have circled on your schedule?
Turk: We’ve got several really good rivalries because of (geography) and because of conference affiliation. Birmingham-Southern is the second week of the season up there. It’ll be a night game. It’ll be the only night game that we play this year. That’s always a really good environment around that game, two in-state Methodist schools going at it. It’s always a lot of fun. Then we have our conference rivals that are Maryville College in Tennessee and LaGrange College over in Georgia.
ANC: What is your lingering question?
Turk: Coming off three straight conference championships and to start the season 0-4 last year was really tough on everybody. To the guys’ credit, they kept coming to work and kept getting better. So, my question would be, that momentum that carried us over into our recruiting and throughout the spring and summer, scratching and clawing our way back to where we want to be, was last year an indicator of the way we performed at the beginning of the season?
Download or print a complete schedule of all 15 Alabama college football programs, including Huntingdon, here.