Hartsville aims to stay in the present and work toward the future in 2017
By Drake Horton, Contributing Writer
Last year was a really good year for the Hartsville Red Foxes; it just was not quite great.
Hartsville won the region and won the lower-state championship. The Red Foxes did not, however, win the state championship. That honor went to the South Pointe Stallions, who also beat the Red Foxes for the state championship back in 2014.
For some teams, the disappointment of coming up short after making it so far is hard to overcome. Multiple that by two and one would think that might just bust the morale in the locker room.
Well, for Hartsville that is not the case because that is not how Hartsville head coach Jeff Calabrese has built his program.
“We don’t talk about being angry,” Calabrese said. “If they’re not angry about losing a state championship game then why do I have to tell them, they were there, the ones that were there.”
Since 2012 Hartsville has played in three state championships, winning in 2012 against Union and losing in 2014 and last year to South Pointe, but for the Red Foxes the result of each game has never made any difference for the future of the program.
“The 2016 football season, they went to work, they had the same opportunity as these kids have and they had a very successful season,” Calabrese said. “Maybe came up a little short, but very successful. That team is gone; this team is completely brand new so we don’t link seasons.”
A cornerstone of the Red Fox football program lays on the acronym GBED: get better every day.
Calabrese has created a next day mantra where the team, including himself, does not talk about the past, but only the present and how they can get better in the future.
“I’m one of those guys, we’re in the next phase,” Calabrese said. “You know I can’t think about the summer workouts right now or May or spring; it’s on to the next phase.”
For Hartsville there is no question of whether it talks about losing two out of the last three state championships, there is no billboard material displaying the scores of those games hoping to entice motivation on wanting to do better and there is definitely no excuses.
Instead, it is a simple process for Hartsville. Show up to work each and every day with the mindset of working as hard as you can to get better.
“We don’t talk about it; it’s not something we talk about,” Calabrese said. “We don’t sit there and say hey we lost the state championship game and you got to work harder. Hopefully these kids will work as hard as they can every day because it’s the right thing to do.”
This season Hartsville is ate up with youth as it only has 13 seniors on the roster, but unlike last year when the Red Foxes went into the season having to rebuild the entire offensive line, the unit remains mostly intact from last season.
“We return some players, but lost a lot of really good players and we lost a lot of really good depth,” Calabrese said. “So while we got some starters coming back, we only have 13 seniors which is the smallest senior class I’ve ever had as a head coach.”
With so much youth to go along with its returning starters, Hartsville is now focused on replenishing its depth, something that is so vital when trying to make a run for the state championship.
“We have a lot of really young players that have to play in key roles into our season,” Calabrese said. “We have kids with some experience, we got some good players, there’s no doubt about it, but the football season is a long one and you are only going to be as good as your depth. That is what we are focused on right now.”
But none of what has been said is going to change how the outside is going to view Hartsville’s season. Regardless of the lack of depth the Red Foxes have and regardless of how much Calabrese does not want to link last season to this season Hartsville is going to be expected to have not a good season, but a great season.
The Red Foxes are going to be expected to win the region, they are going to be expected to go undefeated and they are going to be expected to playing for a 4A state championship at the end of the season.
That is the expectations, now we will see if it is a reality.