After beating the Beaufort Broncos 22-9 on May 16 in their pre-season game, the Hinesville Hurricanes semi-pro football team is ready to open the regular season with a home game tomorrow night at 7 against the Charleston Hawks at Long Bell Stadium.
The game will be the second home opener the squad has played to honor its former biggest fan and team mother, the late Mary Jo Sharp.
Widower and team coach James Sharp said it’s been nearly two years since his wife died after a long illness and she’s still missed by the Hurricane players.
"Well, it’s still hard, her not being here," he said. "If she were here, she would continue to support the team and would want us to have a winning season and that is what we will try to do this season. She loved the Lord ... it was the Lord first and then the team."
Live Oak Church of God Pastor Aaron Cowart will open with a prayer and Sharp said they will give away prizes to ticketholders.
"We are going to give away a bicycle at this game," he said. "You have to have a ticket. We have some more things that we are going to be giving away as well, but only to ticketholders."
The giveaways will take place at half-time or during lengthy game breaks.
Sharp said they did not get an opportunity to study film or see the Hawks in games or practice, so the ’Canes know very little about their offensive or defensive style.
"Right now, it’s easier not knowing about the team," Sharp said. "We are not focused on certain players. We can focus on the game and make adjustments where they are needed. We play them later on in the season and for that game, we’ll have an idea of what to expect, but for this game we can just go out there and play solid ball."
Solid play is what the Hawks can expect from the Hurricanes defense, which quickly came together against the Broncos last month.
"It just took some planning and gelling to cement those positions," defensive coordinator Jade Richards said. "Right now, I feel that we are good to go."
He said the ’Canes have different zone and man coverage ready to go against the Hawks offense.
The Hurricanes defensive put up two touchdowns against the Broncos due to turnovers. For offensive coordinator Bobby Hawes the Canes were trying to lock down their offensive line.
"It takes a while to get an offensive line synchronized," Hawes said. "But we do have some different players who were not available for our pre-season game and we look pretty big up front. I think we are going to be OK. We will see what happens on game day. You can coach these guys all week and work on fundamentals and plays but you have to see what happens come game time. I don’t want to be overzealous but I believe we have an offensive line we can put out front and be very challenging."
Sharp said the team was going to come out, have a good time and play some ball.
"We hope to have a winning season starting by winning this game," Sharp said
"We know what we can do," Hawes added. "We just have to do it. When we line up we are going to have 11 people on the other side on defense and we just have to take it to them."
Admission is $6, children 12 and under admitted free. Only ticketholders will be eligible for the prize giveaways.