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Hocking College Creates First Ever Football Program

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When Hocking College Chief of Police Al Matthews pitched the idea of a JUCO football program to President Dr. Betty Young in fall of 2014, no one would’ve thought it would only take a year to get the program started.  Dr. Young’s biggest concern was the financial problem Hocking College faced last year.

“My goal is to make sure we don’t get into a financial problem moving forward.” Dr. Young said.

Hocking College is the first Junior College , or JUCO, program of its kind in the state of Ohio. Dr. Young knew its small college would be able to hold a JUCO program.

“Hocking College is not a just like a regular two year college in Ohio. About 60% of our enrollment doesn’t come from our surface area [Southeastern Ohio]. These 60% come for the unique programs at Hocking College.” Young said,” We have dorms and a residence life. If you think about a smaller private college, we look a lot more like that. Intercollegiate Athletics work in environments like that work, so I thought why not?”

Matthews said, “A lot of people told me I would have only 7 counties for recruiting range, but we have been recruiting from Florida, Boston, New York City, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Kentucky. I already have eight high school seniors from Canada that have shown high interest in coming here in January. “

After a year of planning and recruiting, Matthews and Young got the program started. With the coaching and police experience Matthews had previously earned, it was only right to make him the head coach.

During every practice, Matthews stresses the season motto:” Tradition starts now.”

“As hard as you work on your books and your education,” Matthews added,” You’ll work twice has hard on the field.”

While working hard on the field is just what they want to do, multiple players like Trevor Mayo from Jersey City, NJ, are just waiting to make history.

“We’re just happy to get a chance to shock the world,” Mayo said while doing drills with cousin Kenneth Bernavil.

As the only JUCO program in Ohio, every player is looking at it as an opportunity to be noticed by some popular Division I schools. Linebacker coach, Jeff Oiler, is looking forward to see where these athletes go.

“I think everyone here has potential to go to the next level. The season will be able to tell where they are going to go after this two year program.”

In a regular Division I school, players will not go to a brand new program, but JUCO is another story. Many players on the Hawks chose Hocking, because it was a new program with publicity.

“It’s a new program, and it’s the only JUCO Program in Ohio, so I knew it would be some great exposure,” said player Darius Strickland from Reynoldsburg, Ohio.

The Hocking College Hawks will begin their inaugural season at Ohio Northern on August 31.