It’s been a year since Hillcrest High football coach Greg Porter has had to worry about his team bouncing back from defeat.
The Rams had won 14 consecutive games, including the Class AAAA Division I state championship, before Friday’s 19-12, double-overtime loss against Westside.
“Our kids began to bounce back probably around Tuesday,” Porter said. “They took it a little harder than I thought they were going to take it, but you know, what doesn’t kill them is going to make them better. So I just try to encourage them. And our school and our community have been awesome as far as being positive with them and encouraging them.”
Porter said the team had meetings Sunday, and Monday’s practice was “a little heavy.” Then the recovery began for the Rams (5-1, 1-1), who will host Greenville (1-5, 0-1) Friday in a Region 1-AAAA game.
“We had to make some changes to be able to make that move again, same as we did last year,” Porter said. “There’s a very important change that has to be made after every loss. We have to learn a lesson in order to move forward. We can’t keep doing the same thing. There’s something that they exposed or found out about us that we didn’t know about ourselves, so it’s very important that we identify those things that are causing us not to be at our best.
“Our defense is playing on such a high level, and we’re where we are right now because of our defense. Our offense is a little bit inconsistent right now. … But I take nothing away from Westside. They’re a good football team, very athletic, and Coach (Scott) Early is doing a great job with those guys.”
Porter said he reminded his players that last year’s loss to Westside provided them with the turning point in their season. The Rams rebounded in such a way that they were able to beat their next nine opponents — including Dutch Fork in the state final — by at least three touchdowns.
“I’m hoping they’ll be able to remember some of the things we did last year, hold onto the stories that we experienced last year and use that as motivation to let them know it’s not over,” Porter said.
“I never put pressure on them to go 15-0. The only pressure I put on them is to play every game as hard as you can. Be at your best. That’s all we expect of them as a staff. If you keep replaying what happened, you won’t move forward, and that’s for coaches, too, not just the players.”