By: Ryan Kelly | WCTV Eyewitness Sports
July 30, 2019
JASPER, Fla. (WCTV) -- With a 1-8 record, 2018 was full of challenges for Hamilton County. But, the biggest battle for the Trojans was even having a season at all, after Ric Whittington and both of his coordinators resigned in August after being hired in March.
A Trojan Horse indeed.
"The morale of the boys went downhill and if it hadn't been for another assistant coach that's been with the program...We had to rally them back up and we made it through the season," said assistant coach Larue Lieupo.
That assistant? Hamilton alumn and longtime Trojan coach, Doug Clayton, who felt it was his duty to keep his alma mater's team afloat.
"It's about these kids and I wanted to give them the best opportunity to keep this core together so that with the new year we could bring in a new coach and not have to pick up from the beginning," Clayton said.
And so, the Trojans would fight through the fire, keeping the ship intact for a new captain to take command; Rich Vester, who believes the opportunity outweighs all.
"A lot of people, if you ask around, they either say to stay as far away as you can or it's a gold mine and so me and the staff that's here now, we feel like this is a diamond in the rough," Vester said. "We've got great kids that work their tails off."
Vester will bring his option attack to Hamilton, bolstered by a large offensive line and a team ready to move forward.
"When you're talking about a team that's went through what they've went through, the process of buying in and fully committing and all that stuff takes a little longer but it's really just a matter of getting better each day and not worrying about the past, making our own history and not looking ahead just living in the moment and trying to get better today," Vester explained.
So in Jasper, reports of the fall of Troy may just be premature or flat out untrue, as the Trojans stand refined by adversity, and ready to get back in the fight.
Hamilton County's schedule this season is as follows:
at Lafayette (8/23)
Fort White (8/30)
at Suwannee (9/6)
Lanier County (9/13)
at Union County (9/27)
at Newberry (10/4)
at Munroe (10/25)
Paxson School for Advanced Studies (11/1)