By Zach Solon | April 8, 2021 at 9:42 PM EDT – Updated April 8 at 9:42 PM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – The Hoggard High School football team is undefeated heading into the state playoffs, having secured a perfect regular season record and a Mideastern conference title.
For the program’s seniors, this unusual spring football season is their last chance to get a state title. Despite the challenges, Head Coach Craig Underwood is proud of how his players have adjusted.
“There were a lot of days where we were wondering if we were going to get to play,” says Underwood. “What I credit the senior group with, is that they never waivered, and they just continue to show up and work out.”
The team finished their regular season on Monday, improving to 7-0 with a win over South Brunswick. They have been practicing this week during spring break, a time when players would normally be off if the season were in the fall.
“It was definitely uncertain for a really long time during the summer,” says senior quarterback Gabe Johnson. “So we would go to work out not really knowing if we would have a season or not.”
The uncertainty of the pandemic did not stop the team’s seniors from boosting team morale. The group worked out together when they could, an enhanced chemistry that had made its way onto the field.
“I can’t tell you how many days we were in a teammates garage lifting weights or in a field somewhere getting footwork in.” says senior linebacker Brice Nalepa. “Team chemistry is at an all-time high, I think it’s showing on the field.”
With his team’s success, Underwood is impressed with how his team has been able to adjust.
“I’m just so proud and happy for them that they’ve been able to reap the benefits of it,” says Underwood. “Going 7-0, whether it’s a fall season or spring season or whatever time of year you’re playing, that’s a special thing, that’s not something that many teams get to do. “
The team is not done yet. Brackets for the state playoffs are expected to be released this weekend. Hoggard will receive an automatic berth.
“It’s just really awesome to have the opportunity to get a conference championship and now go for a state title,” says Johnson.
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