HANNIBAL – Cole Gander hoped he'd get another opportunity.
The senior cornerback for the Hannibal football team was burned twice in the first half on deep passes for touchdowns during last week's 69-20 victory over Fulton. Gander, however, wanted another deep pass thrown his direction.
“I wanted to redeem myself, for sure,” Gander said. “Guys pick us up after something bad happens on the field. You just have to respond.”
He didn't disappoint, as when a ball was thrown his way later in the game he came up with a pass deflection and eventually forced Fulton to punt.
Gander showed he's able to have short-term memory when bad plays happen and move on to the next.
“That's high school football,” Hannibal football coach Quentin Hamner said. “Those are teaching moments when we can make them better. He was trying really hard, and just had bad technique. So we had to make sure to correct that, and that's what happened.”
As a whole, Hannibal has improved at moving on after something negative happens. Hamner said during the game he won't jump on a player for making a bad play. Instead, it's something they'll discuss during film session or practice the following week.
The players have responded to that kind of coaching.
“Two negatives aren't going to make it right,” Hamner said. “Guys like Cole are coachable and want to do well. So when we're trying to correct things, we're just about getting them reps and plays.”
Hannibal responded to those long touchdowns by scoring touchdowns of its own in what turned out to be a high-scoring first quarter that saw a combined 40 points scored in the opening 12 minutes.
“Whatever works for us,” Gander said. “It can be a small play, or coming up with a score. We just have to do better than what the other team does.”
Hannibal hopes to continue that trend going into Friday night's North Central Missouri Conference tilt against Moberly, in what could potentially decide the league title. Hannibal sits 3-0 entering the matchup, while Moberly has just one loss on the season. All other schools have at least two losses in NCMC play.
That's enough motivation for the Pirates.
“We're ready for sure,” Gander said. “Each week is a big game for us. So we'll be ready.”