Chapel Hill Looking to Build on Jason Hooker’s First Win As Bulldogs Coach
There's something really gratifying for a new coach to win his first game at a new school, especially when your goal is to return a program to its glory days.
That was the case for Jason Hooker and the Chapel Hill Bulldogs. With a 48-37 win over Wills Point in Week 1 under their belt, it's time to build on that success.
"(I was nervous) to a certain extent. Of course I've coached and been involved in hundreds of football games, but it's different when it's your first time with a new group," said Hooker, who left Brownsboro to take the Chapel Hill job in the spring. "You learn about what buttons to push, how to coach certain guys and see how your guys perform under pressure. I'm real pleased with our guys after Friday night."
The story of the Bulldogs' first win of 2017 was their offense. After averaging 22 points per game in 2016, including six games in the single digits, Chapel Hill racked up 48 points and 442 yards of offense against Wills Point.
Senior running back Hunter Branin took control of the running game, rushing 15 times for 201 yards and three touchdowns. Khalan Griffin and Jaxon Heckle each threw two touchdowns, all of which went to senior receiver Demarcus Attaway, who finished with six catches for 152 yards. Heckle completed 7 of 8 passes for 141 yards in the win.
"I was proud of how we were able to score in multiple ways and we were able to score under pressure," Hooker said. "We had four touchdowns called back and our kids didn't get their head down. They kept trodding and persevering. Their persistence is what I liked the most Friday night."
Perseverance and persistence are two traits a team like Chapel Hill needs to return to the program much of the state is familiar with. The Bulldogs are just six years removed from a state championship and four from a nine-win season that ended in the regional final.
The past few years have been rough in Chapel Hill, which has just five wins over the past two seasons. But Hooker said he is looking forward to the challenge ahead of him, which he said is a big reason he decided to take the job.
"Any coach in the business likes that challenge and likes that type of 'good pressure,' I'd say," Hooker said. "People are real hungry in this community, and the kids are hungry. I haven't put any long-range, lofty goals on them other than just be better today than we were yesterday. We'll look up one day soon and see some of the successes we wished for."
The road doesn't get any easier in Chapel Hill's 2017 season. The Bulldogs face longtime rival Whitehouse on Thursday night at CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium in Tyler, and three weeks after that marks the beginning of the "District of Doom," with Henderson to start and defending state champion Carthage to end the season.
But, like Hooker said he emphasizes on a daily basis with his team, perseverance and persistence are crucial.
"We ask our kids to practice very hard and play very hard. We emphasize that you play like you practice," Hooker said. "We try to stress them physically and mentally every day so the game scenario seems easier or even slows down."