The Ouachita Christian Eagles are moving on in the playoffs, and it’s not the way head coach Steven Fitzhugh envisioned.
Due to COVID-19 issues within the Hamilton Christian football program, the No. 14 Warriors had to pull out their contest with the No. 3 Eagles.
“(Coach Dexter Washington) called me on Saturday and said, ‘Coach, I know we’re the underdog, but we’re coming to compete,’” Fitzhugh said. “I told him he had some good skill players, and he told me, ‘Coach, I know, but you know the game is won in the trenches.’”
Washington had no idea the next couple days would force him out of the playoff contest. A positive test combined with a player’s parents testing positive sidelined too many players for Hamilton Christian to press forward and take on the Eagles.
“His seniors were just devastated that their season had to end like that,” Fitzhugh said. “I hate that for them, and you know, our kids will get another opportunity to play another ballgame, hopefully. I told our kids the last couple of weeks that we will play every ballgame like it’s our last because you don’t ever know.”
Fitzhugh was looking forward to playing a home game after only getting two home games this season. One home game (Tensas) was canceled, and though Delta Charter was slated to be a home game for the Eagles, Fitzhugh wasn’t assured by the Storm that game would ultimately be played. So Fitzhugh went ahead and scheduled a road game instead against Denham Springs.
If No. 11 St. Mary’s upsets No. 6 Metairie Park Country Day, the Eagles would have to travel in the second round.
“We’ll be heading to Natchitoches if that happens, because the difference is this is a forfeit and not a bye,” Fitzhugh said. “So even though we’re the higher seed, we would have to travel to play the team that hasn’t had a home game in the next round. This actually happened before in 2010.”
As for staying in rhythm, Fitzhugh isn’t sweating that, not after the practice the Eagles had leading up to the Hamilton Christian game.
“Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were very good practices, and we got a lot of work in,” Fitzhugh said. “I feel like we are in rhythm. We’re ready to go, and I don’t think missing the game Friday is going to hurt us.”
OCS’ motto in 2020 is “Stay the Course,” and that remains more applicable than ever in 2020.
“The Lord is in control,” Fitzhugh said. “We enjoy every day of football practice. Hopefully we’ll play next week. But you know, last Friday night against Denham Springs, that was the most fun we’ve had all year. We played an outstanding football team and I don’t think we’ve looked better all year long.”