RUSK, Texas (KTRE/KLTV) - When the Rusk Eagles lost to the Pittsburg Pirates during the 2018-19 area playoffs, coaching staff took that loss to heart. This year, the message during preseason practice and scrimmages began with a theme that spanned the Eagles’ entire previous season: Finishing.
In 2018, the Eagles lost six straight games; however, five of the six games were decided by no more than 8 points. The Eagles then won four straight to win district and won the bi-district playoff game before losing to the Pirates.
“Been waiting on football for a long time,” said Eagles head coach Jowell Hancock. “[We] had Pittsburg within two minutes of righting the ship from what happened in non-district. But, we didn’t do the things late; it cost us. We’ve been working on that, that’s the one big thing we’re pushing in our non-district schedule.”
“It used to be ‘make it to the playoffs’, but now it’s ‘make it to December’, you know," said Garrett Blalock, left tackle for the Eagles. “Our goals have been win district, playoffs, and play in December.”
The Rusk Eagles open the season Aug. 30 at home against Fairfield Eagles. Before that, the Eagles will host Malakoff Tigers in a scrimmage at 7 p.m. Thursday night. The Tigers went to the 3-A D-I state title game in 2018.
“It taught a lot of life lessons to the kids last year. They figured out, you keep going, you keep pushing, don’t listen to the noise, don’t listen to the naysayers, do your job and good things will happen,” Hancock added. “We want to be the difference maker. We want to be uncommon. We are in a sport where it takes a lot of commitment. On days you don’t want to be here you push your way through and you will be better at the end of the day then when you started.”