Hester expects Howard to be better in 2014

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Going into last football season, Howard High School had lost more than 20 straight games.  They closed out the 2010 season with four losses and then went 0-10 in both 2011 and 2012.

In January 2013, middle Georgia coaching legend Barney Hester–a man who had won 11 GISA titles and more than 300 games at Tattnall–took over at Howard, and he wasted no time getting the program pointed in the right direction.

Fast forward to this season.  With more than a year under Hester, the team took the field Monday afternoon for spring practice.  Yes, the actual season is still four months away, but spring is when the real coaching happens.

"First thing, we’re teaching some of these guys how to get in a uniform," Hester says.  "Some of them had never even been in a uniform before.  First day of practice in the spring, we’ve got right around 100 guys out here.  We’re excited."

Several of the players were obviously new to varsity competition. 

When Hester split the players into position groups for drills, he told one group of young players to go with DBs (defensive backs).  One of the kids approached him after the others had left and asked if a cornerback was a DB.

"Yes, a cornerback is a DB," Hester responded.

That’s just one example of how different spring is from fall.

"Fundamentals," Hester says.  "I mean, that’s what it’s all about.  You’ve got to learn to block and tackle, and in the spring, you’ve got time to do that.  You don’t have to worry about preparing for anybody.  That’s what we’re trying to accomplish."

Their accomplishment last year was breaking a 24-game losing streak. The Huskies started the season 2-0, but their momentum quickly faded. They finished with eight straight losses.

They did, however, close with a good performance.  In the seven games after their two wins, they were outscored by an average of 26 points, but in the season finale against Perry, they fell by just two: 27-25.

"Even though we lost, we kept fighting," Clifton Tucker, a two-year starter at cornerback says.  "The seniors last year, they left us a foundation to build off of."

Tucker will be one of ten seniors on this year’s team, which returns most of its biggest playmakers from last season.

"We’re going to be better this year," Hester says.  "There’s no doubt we’ll be better.  How much it shows on the scoreboard, I don’t know yet.  That will be determined by how hard we work, but we’ll be better."

Howard opens the season August 22 on the road at defending AA state runner-up Lamar County.

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(478) 745-4141 ext. 310 Tucker Sargent joined the 41NBC news team in April 2012. He hails from "The Great State of Alabama," as he calls it, but you won't catch him saying "Roll Tide!" Tucker grew up near Auburn, before moving to north Alabama. He graduated from Danville High School in 2007 and loves to return to the Tennessee Valley any chance he gets. He moved back south to Troy, Alabama after high school, where he graduated from Troy University in 2011 with a B.S. in Broadcast Journalism. He interned in Huntsville at WAAY-TV before joining 41NBC. His passion is sports, and his favorite teams are the Auburn Tigers and Troy Trojans. On the weekends you can catch Tucker watching college football on Saturdays and NASCAR on Sundays! He's proud to call middle Georgia home for now and could always use a story idea from you, so don't hesitate to get in touch with him!