First-year Archbishop Hannan football coach Scott Wattigny said he entered this season without any expectations when it came to his team’s wins and losses.
However, standing 4-2 overall and 2-1 in District 7-2A, a year after struggling to win a single game all season long, some might consider the Hawks ahead of schedule.
“I don’t want to use words like ahead of schedule,” Wattigny said. “Honestly, what I believe is happening is our kids are starting to believe. I think the win against St. Helena (Oct. 2) was big for our program. That game showed our team that with the proper work, attention to detail and focus there is no limit for what this team can do.
“We have preached to this team since I got here that the harder they work, the more success they will have.
“I think what is happening right now is our work is finally starting to pay off, and that is why we are in the position we are in.”
Hannan travels to Northlake Christian on Friday night in a 7-2A matchup.
A change under center has sparked Wattigny’s squad offensively. Replacing senior Jonathan Ryan after an injury, junior Timothy McDonald has thrown for 579 yards and brings an added offensive threat.
“Both kids are different in their own way,” Wattigny said of his quarterbacks. “We were planning to use Jonathan as a running quarterback. Timothy opens up the field of play for us because he can really hurt opposing defenses vertically. He can throw the ball in all ranges. It opens up the field for our running game as well.”
The three-headed rushing attack of sophomore Nicholas Martin-Moorman (345 yards), junior Oliver Murphy (212 yards.) and senior Ryan Hensarling (120 yards) has also been a big reason for the Hawks success.
“This is what we do,” Wattigny said. “We run the football to open up the passing game. We have so many guys that can carry the ball, and they are all different. It is uncomfortable as a defensive player. We have so many different guys, and it makes us that much more dynamic as a rushing attack.”
Northlake Christian enters the game unbeaten in district, with their lone loss coming on the road at Independence.
The Wolverines are led by senior Josh Landry. The definition of an all-purpose player, Landry plays both sides of the football for Northlake Christian. He has also seen time at quarterback, running back, wide receiver in addition to kicking extra points and returning kickoffs, as well as at every defensive group.
On the year, Landry leads the Wolverines with 831 yards rushing on 97 carries and has scored eight touchdowns.
“We always knew he was a talented kid,” Northlake Christian coach Anthony Agresta said. “The reason he is starting to get bigger stats and more attention now is because he is getting more touches. He had spent the past several seasons playing behind some talented players and now it is his turn and he is showing why he is a special athlete.
“He is not doing anything we didn’t know he was capable of doing. He is just getting more touches now to be able to do it.”