The Bishop Hendricken football program had the best run in state history when it took home seven straight titles from 2010-2016.
The Hawks seemed poised to make it eight straight last season, but were upset in the state title game in a 22-21 loss to La Salle.
“It has dictated our entire preseason and summer. It eats at you, it’s eaten at me, I’m still not over it. It’s not something that consumes me to the point that that’s all I’m focused on but what bothers me is that we had multiple chances to close that game out and we couldn’t,” said Hendricken head coach Keith Croft. “It’s the game of football, you have to tip your cap to them, they made the plays and we didn’t. We lived like that for seven or eight years, we were used to doing that.”
Although the Hawks have flipped the page to the 2018 season, they still look back to the bitter end of 2018. Some teams try to forget such losses, however, Hendricken players and coaches admit that they will use it as motivation.
“It was a close game, the season definitely didn’t end the way we wanted it to. We’ve got to protect the legacy, that’s the motto for the team this year. We have a great group of kids out here, now that I’m a senior I hope that I can be a leader and help lead these kids to a championship,” said senior lineman Xavier Truss, who recently committed to playing for Division I Georgia next fall. “It’s crazy, I can’t believe that it’s almost over. It’s almost time for me to pack my stuff and head down south. I’ve got to enjoy this last ride with my brothers and come out state champs. It’s of big importance to me.”
“Seeing the final seconds count down in the last game last year, everyone still has that game in their heads,” added junior Angel Sanchez, who had a breakout season last year as a wide receiver. “As soon as I’m back on that field I’m going to do whatever I can to return the trophy back home. Everyone is hungry.”
Croft feels that the club is in a good spot entering 2018. With much of the same core as last year returning, Croft hopes to see his seniors take control of the team.
“I think we’re ahead of where we were last year. I think we’re still trying to find some leadership right now which takes some time to develop. I’ve been really impressed with the kids this preseason. They showed up to camp in shape, they’ve been working really hard, they’re hungry,” said Croft.
Truss is also confident in the team’s experience in both its seniors and juniors.
“I think we have an even better core of seniors this year. We have a lot of experience on this team because a lot of these seniors played as sophomores and won a state championship,” said Truss.
Considering the recent run of success in Hendricken football, as well as the conclusion to last season, the Hawks will face much pressure heading into 2018. However, they are ready to embrace the expectations, and leave their mark in Hendricken history.
“There’s always pressure at a place like Hendricken. There’s pressure this year, there was pressure on last year’s group,” said Croft. “I think regardless of what sport it is at any school you want to go out on top. We always talk about leaving a legacy. The seniors last year left a legacy and we want the seniors this year to leave their own legacy.”