ST. THOMAS — Charlotte Amalie High School tackle football coach Irving Beazer has spent the past two months getting his team ready for the start of the season.
But Beazer’s biggest challenge — other than the Hawks trying to repeat as territorial champions — is not dwelling on the past, and instilling a little game discipline in his players.
“I never preach or teach, ‘last year’,” Beazer said before the team’s practice Thursday. “My thing is skills, preparation and execution. Once we have that, we have a team.
“But we’re not going to have the element of surprise; victory doesn’t come by surprise. It comes through hard work. That’s what these boys have been doing.”
Charlotte Amalie High begins its title defense tonight, taking on island rival Ivanna Eudora Kean High School at Lionel Roberts Stadium. Game time is 7 p.m.
The Hawks vs. Devil Rays matchup kicks off the U.S. Virgin Islands’ high school tackle football season, with St. Croix rivals Central High School and St. Croix Educational Complex High School meeting at 1 p.m. Saturday at Alfredo Andrews Elementary School’s playing field.
In Beazer’s first season as head coach, Charlotte Amalie High ran the table against both its St. Thomas and St. Croix competition, going undefeated en route to winning the territorial championship for the first time since 2015.
Last season began late as the islands were still recovering from hurricanes Irma and Maria, with no intra-island games and the championship game not played until late January.
There’s no such issues this season, with four of the six regular-season games being intra-island contests. The territorial championship game will be played Friday, Dec. 7, at Lionel Roberts Stadium.
Beazer has had his Hawks players working out since early August — a change from how things have been done in the past.
“We’ve had a mini-camp, we’ve had them in the weight room and we’re trying to get a video room started up,” Beazer said. “We eventually want to work on this year-round.
“I came here to change a culture, but I’ve noticed its an unappreciated job, and an uncompensated job.”
According to Beazer, Charlotte Amalie High lost just five players off last year’s team, which outscored its opponents 122-34 in three games (two against Ivanna Eudora Kean High, and the territorial championship against St. Croix Educational Complex).
“But we’re faster this year in a lot of positions,” Beazer said. “We’ve got a lot of speed. We’ve also got a lot of seniors. This is a special group — that’s why I was trying to get a game together in the United States this year. But we are going to play some teams from Puerto Rico later in the season.”
Because of last year’s performance, Beazer is under no impression that the Hawks will have any surprises for the other teams in the league.
“We know what we can do, and they know what they can do,” Beazer said. “We’re not trying to surprise them, but I hope they’re not trying to surprise us. Nothing is going to surprise us once we prepare the guys how we need to prepare them.”