The Hannibal football team had to wait one more day than the rest of the area’s football teams to start the season, but that doesn’t bother Pirates head coach Mark St Clair. In fact, St Clair is grateful for the extra day of practice as his Pirates will be facing a very tough opponent in Mary Institute and St. Louis County Day School (MICDS).
“Having the extra day, there is no question it is a benefit,” St Clair said. “Having that extra day of practice – basically we are going into week three with two extra days of practice because we are playing two Saturday games.”
St Clair is looking forward to seeing how his team fares against a tough team like MICDS.
“This is a good experience for these kids,” St Clair said. “This is the first time ever we have played MICDS. We worked hard to get this game set up and it’s a great opener. It is one of those deals where you have two good football teams, two good football programs and you don’t often see that in the first game.”
But getting to the game was tricky. The Missouri State High School Activities Association decided to start the football season one week earlier than in past years. Because of that, the Pirates were unable to play Illinois’ Quincy Notre Dame in week one as Illinois starts a week later. That left the Pirates without an opponent for the first week.
After some looking, only one school had an open week to begin the season, but that school did not want to play Hannibal.
“That is the situation we are in,” St Clair said. “We don’t have teams lining up to play us. So we kind of have to take things as we get them.”
Then MICDS entered the picture. The Rams had a game slated for opening week, but wanted to play the Pirates. So, after some work between MICDS and its scheduled opponent, the schedule was changed and Hannibal slipped into that week one spot.
St Clair couldn’t have been more pleased how things worked out for his team.
“It is one of those deals that just worked out,” St Clair said. “This is what we need. By no means did we want to be open week one. By picking up (MICDS) we have a game and we have a game that has some significance to it. Either way, both of our teams, MICDS and us, we are going to be better football teams when we get done.
The Pirates’ head coach couldn’t be happier with the effort his team has given during offseason workouts and preseason camp to get ready for the season. But, he also mentioned special teams as possibly being a key to the game.
“We had a good offseason,” St Clair said. “We think our physical conditioning is better than it has been some time in the past. We have got to take care of the details, especially on special teams and taking care of football. I think the two big factors of this game are going to be special teams and turnovers.”
While Hannibal lost quite a few starters, it will have several key players back this season. Senior Austin Kirby will be back under center while fellow senior Wyatt King, who started every game last year, will be a big part of the Pirates’ running game.
“There is no substitute for experience,” St Clair said. “We have a lot of kids with a significant amount of experience playing. It shows in how we practice. Experience is everything. We are just hoping the young kids can step up in a hurry and our older kids and more experienced kids can lead the way.”
Kickoff for today’s game will come at 10 a.m. in St. Louis at MICDS High School.