Archbishop Hannan-Independence moved to Strawberry Field for Saturday afternoon kickoff

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It’s been a frustrating start to the 2017-18 season for the Archbishop Hannan Hawks’ football team.

For three straight weeks, the Hawks’ scheduled scrimmage, jamboree or game has been rescheduled or moved – culminating in the week one contest against Independence being moved to Saturday at Strawberry Field at 2 p.m. on the campus of Southeastern.

Hannan coach Scott Wattigny said the stop-and-start nature of the season is something the Hawks’ experienced last year as well.

“It’s actually something that has happened two years in a row now. We seem to be in the midst of chaos when it comes to early August and weather,” Wattigny said. “I’m very fortunate that we decided to take the spring off, so we were able to start practicing July 31 and we started practice a week ahead.”

Hannan was forced to practice at an off-site indoor practice facility on Wednesday.

“It’s a good thing that we had the opportunity to get practice in, but football is played outside,” Wattigny said. “It’s never ideal to give up a home game, but we had to do what we had to do.”

But the Hawks have tried to make the best of a difficult situation and Wattigny said his team would be prepared for a tough Tigers’ roster.

Veteran Keith Carona – whose son, Michael, played with Wattigny at Holy Cross in high school – coaches the Tigers. Independence went 3-7 last season and dropped down from Class 3A to 2A.

“He has been at Independence for a long time and he has done a great job,” Wattigny said. “They’re going to try and be downhill on us and run the football. Defensively, they play really fast.”

The strength of the Hawks’ still figures to be the experienced offensive line blocking for quarterback Chris Rabensteiner (133 passing yards and 90 rushing yards in the jamboree) and running back Brendan David, but the offense did show good balance against Country Day.

One of the biggest issues the Hawks’ have tried to address in practice through the last two weeks is limiting drive-killing mistakes, especially penalties.

Wattigny said the team has a deterrent system built into practice to limit penalties that he thinks will manifest itself on the field.

“We’re doing the right stuff at practice and I think we are really close to seeing that translate and transition out onto the field during games,” Wattigny said.

Wattigny said Independence would be a challenge for Hannan, but his team would be up to the task despite the challenges they have faced throughout the month leading up to the season-opener.

“It has just been tumultuous in terms of making schedule changes on the fly – now our first home game is at Southeastern, which is nothing that you really want,” Wattigny said. “It makes things more difficult, but that is the nature of the beast.

“I think we have done a good job of adapting to the situation as best as we can to give ourselves the best chance to win on Saturday. It hasn’t been easy, but no excuses – we’re going to have to go out and play well Saturday regardless.”

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