Aberdeen defensive lineman Jenari Bell and the rest of the Bulldogs' defense finally hit the field on Friday against Calhoun City.

The Aberdeen Bulldogs are ready to gear up and face Calhoun City on next Friday night after missing their first two games due to quarantine.

Aberdeen coach Alex Williams told his team to cherish every moment when they come back and to gain back the respect that Aberdeen football has had.

“The message going into it was basically that anything can be taken away from us at any point of time, and we have to take advantage of every opportunity that we have. These past two years we just don’t know what could happen, so I’ve been telling my seniors to cherish every moment when we get the opportunity to come back,” Williams said. “As far as the message coming back, I’ve been preaching being relentless, getting in shape and telling them that we’ve got something to prove. We’ve had a tough couple of years, and our goal is to bounce back and gain the respect that people have for Aberdeen football back.”

This is not the first time that Aberdeen has had to deal with quarantine. Last season they had to miss their final two regular season games because of it. Williams said being put in this situation twice now has been a learning experience.

“It has definitely taught me a lot of patience. As a coach, you put yourself in that football mode from July to November, but these past two years you don’t know if you’ll have a game this week or not,” Williams said. “You just have to take things day by day and appreciate the grind because you can be getting ready to play, then someone calls you saying we’re going into quarantine. That’s like what happened to us last year; we were getting ready to play North Pontotoc, and I got that call. It’s frustrating, but it’s one of those things we have to go through for everyone’s safety.”

In the few times that the Bulldogs have gotten to practice, Williams said that he has seen overall growth in his team.

“We’ve matured a good bit as a whole. Our juniors have played a lot of football for us, so their knowledge and game experience are starting to show, and our seniors have been working hard,” Williams said. “The biggest thing that I’ve noticed in practice was that we’re not afraid of contact, and we’re taking on that tough guy mentally.”

Williams said he believes that players like junior Jermaine Strong, seniors T.J. Fields and Jenari Bell and sophomore Kobe Williams will have big impacts for the Bulldogs this season.

“Jermaine (Strong) has made strides at the quarterback position and cornerback; he’s going to play a lot of football for us. T.J. (Fields was looking good before we got shut down, and he’s picked up from where he left off,” Williams said. “Defensively, we’re going to lean on Kobe (Williams), I think he is going to make some big plays for us. At defensive tackle, we’ve had a hard time blocking Jenari (Bell) in practice, so he’s also going to be big for us on defense.”

Aberdeen is set to play a tough opponent in Calhoun City for its first game of the season, but Williams said he thinks that his team is up for the challenge.

“Well, you kind of want a couple games under your belt before you go play the 2A North state champion, but their situation has been a little similar to ours,” Williams said. “They’re an athletic, well-coached team, so we’ve got to go out there and play fundamentally-sound football. I know the kids are ready to play, and I’m excited to see them.”

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