By GREG MENGELT
If Charlestown coach Jason Hawkins has any love for his alma mater and the team for which he once played and was an assistant coach under his father, he certainly hasn’t shown it.
Hawkins’ Pirates have faced Clarksville six times since he took over as the Charlestown head coach in 2007. His teams have beaten the Generals all six times by a combined score of 260-80.
“It’s a rival. It’s always been a rivalry,” Hawkins said. “It’s a game that I want to win every time we play it. Hopefully, the kids feel the same way and they come out with emotion. If I had to pick one game to win every year, I’d start with Clarksville.”
A year ago, Charlestown led the Generals 40-0 at the half and had a 53-0 advantage in the waning moments of the third quarter before Hawkins showed his former team mercy by pulling his starters.
But 2012 and 2013 have been two different stories in Charlestown.
A year ago, the Pirates were unbeaten and had outscored Madison and Brownstown Central 108-17 entering their Week 3 clash with Clarksville. Last year’s team went on to start 12-0 and win the school’s first sectional championship in 16 years.
This year, they’re 0-2 and have been outscored 64-33 by the same two opponents.
Friday’s News and Tribune Game of the Week isn’t about grudges or reunions — or even championships. For Hawkins and the Pirates, it’s about getting in the win column.
“We need to play well. We’re excited to get back on the football field and improve again this week,” Hawkins said.
Charlestown hopes a win over its longtime Mid-Southern Conference rival gets it back on the right track, as it did two seasons ago. The Pirates suffered through difficult losses to Madison and Brownstown to open the 2011 campaign before a 42-22 win over the Generals began an eight-game winning streak. The Pirates eventually made their way into the Class 3A Sectional 23 semifinal before dropping a 33-28 heartbreaker to Corydon Central that year.
“I don’t think I have to remind the kids of ,” Hawkins said. “I think the kids know what happened two years ago. Most of them were there. We’re just trying to stay focused. If we can do that at the end of the year, I think we can be pretty good.”
Hawkins believes his Pirates are close to turning a corner. After falling behind MSC-favorite Brownstown 33-6 a week ago, Charlestown outscored the Braves 20-7 down the stretch to induce some hope that special things could still lie ahead in C’town.
“We did turn a corner,” Hawkins said of the second half against the Braves. “We got back to playing our style of football. Our defense played faster and we’re looking to build off of that for this week.”
Clarksville is 0-2 for the first time since 2009. It is desperate for a victory, too.
“Obviously, we want to win,” said Clarksville coach Steve Cooley, who once hired Hawkins as an assistant coach at Jeffersonville, “but we want to see improvement. We’ve simplified things this week. We’re just going to be really basic and try to play fast and get after it a little bit.”
The Generals led Eastern 22-21 at halftime in Week 2. But with fewer than 40 players on the roster, injuries and perhaps fatigue, helped the Musketeers outscore them 31-0 in the second half.
“I think the kids are in good shape,” Cooley said. “When your leading tackler [Devin Grooms, who had 11 at halftime] goes out with an injury, it takes a toll on your team.”
If history is any indication, Hawkins won’t give his alma mater any special treatment.
“They’re big up front and they’re physical,” Cooley assessed the Pirates. “They’re just trying to find their identity and when they do, they’re going to be a light’s out football team. They’ll get better this week, but hopefully we’ll get better, too.”
JASON HAWKINS VS. CLARKSVILLE
2012 — Charlestown 67, at Clarksville 18
2011 — At Charlestown 42, Clarksville 22
2010 — Charlestown 44, at Clarksville 14
2009 — At Charlestown 43, Clarksville 8
2008 — Charlestown 43, at Clarksville 12
2007 — At Charlestown 21, Clarksville 6
WEEK 3 SCHEDULE
Brownstown Central at Eastern, 7 p.m.
Clarksville at Charlestown, 7 p.m.
Floyd Central at Madison, 7 p.m.
Holy Cross at Providence, 7 p.m.
Jeffersonville at Bedford North Lawrence, 7 p.m.
Jennings County at New Albany, 7 p.m.
Silver Creek at Corydon Central, 7 p.m.