HENNESSEY, Okla. — Hennessey has gone through the harsh realities of COVID-19 the last two weeks.
The Eagles have been in quarantine the past two weeks after five players tested positive. It came on the heels of a 33-7 win over Crooked Oak on Sept. 18, which broke a 14-game losing streak over two years.
Hennessey's practice Tuesday for Friday's home game with Blackwell, 2-3 overall and 0-2 in A-1 was the first for the Eagles since Sept. 17.
"We have a bunch of kids back today (Tuesday) and the rest back tomorrow,'' said Hennessey coach Paul Hix. "We're going to give it a go.''
Hix knew something was wrong on a Sept. 20 practice "when we were seeing kids dropping left to right.'' Tests revealed the positive cases, which sent everyone home for two weeks.
"We were already in the process of sending everyone home,'' Hix said. "The kids were pretty emotional about being sent home and letting games slip away. At the same time we are in the middle of a serious health crisis. You don't know what the long time effects of having coronavirus will be. It's a unique situation. We not only haven't done anything for two weeks, but we have had a lot of kids coming off a upper-respiratory illness.''
The Eagles were able to communicate through HUDL and zoom meetings. They didn't have films of Blackwell yet so they couldn't show those.
"We had a lot of guys normally gone to a fitness center, but they couldn't do that,'' Hix said. "We didn't want them to do anything hodgepodge because of the sickness. We're hoping we have some cool weather, but I understand it's supposed to get hotter. It's a routine statement to say we're excited about being back in a routine and having a game scheduled for Friday.''
Hix said he will be careful not to try to do too much too fast. Hix said he and his staff will keep a close eye on his players' blood oxygen levels.
The Eagles downed Crooked Oak with both Sebastian Gonzales (18 for 107 yards, three touchdowns) and Keigen Crites (16 for 130 yards and two touchdowns) going over the 100-yard mark on the ground. Hennessey didn't have to punt.
"There's never a good time for something like this,'' Hix said. "We were riding home. Our offensive line was jelling and that had been an issue up to that point. We already knew how to treat a bye (Sept. 11) but coming back after two weeks is a challenge.''
Blackwell has lost three straight after opening the season with wins over the OKC Patriots, 51-0 and Oklahoma Bible Academy, 56-19. The Maroons have losses to No. 9 Class A Tonkawa, 15-14 and 2A-1 opponents Luther, 49-7 and Perry, 51-14.
Quarterback Nat Hindman is nine of 23 passing for 126 yards and one touchdown with three interceptions. Christian Mora has rushed for 355 yards on 67 carries and one touchdown. Tanner Botts has 15 catches for 360 yards and four scores.
"They have some big kids up front and some kids that can catch the ball,'' Hix said. "We'll do everything we can not to make it a one-sided game. I know our opponent doesn't care that we haven't practiced the last two weeks.''
It's the last time the two teams have played since a two-game series in 1976 and 1977. Hennessey won 6-0 in 1976 with the Maroons winning 7-6 the next season.