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Hazard receiver Tyson Turner catches the ball over the middle against Pikeville last season in the Class A playoffs.

Hazard is getting ready for the football season.

The Bulldogs have eight regular season games scheduled and like every other team in the state, they are inching closer and closer to that August 24 date to officially start practice.

Right now, the Bulldogs are conditioning and working out getting ready for the first day they can practice in pads.

Head coach Dan Howard has transitioned from assistant coach to the top spot.

“It’s definitely different,” Howard said. “I’ve been here 13 years. I started here in ’07. We had some really good success since then. We played in four state championships under coach Mark Dixon. He’s a great coach and he decided to move on. I stepped in and it’s been a new role for me, but I know these kids and know their families. I know where they come from and I’ve had these kids since they were five. I had them in Kindergarten and I was the elementary P.E. teacher for years. Now I’m a principal, so I know all of them and they know what to expect from me and I know what to expect from them. They know what to expect when they come to practice.”

Earlier this spring the Bulldogs had to put workouts on hold for a period of time dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak on the team.

“It’s definitely tough,” Howard said. “We went through the whole thing with canceling practice for a couple of weeks. A lot of people blamed that on us and tried to lay a lot of the cases on the county on us, but we did everything we were supposed to do. We followed the CDC. We wore masks no matter what some papers said. We took temperatures. Our kids weren’t sick and if they were sick, we told them to go home. We were just following the guidelines.”

Once official practice does begin on August 24, the Bulldogs will have three weeks to get ready for the season opener against Floyd Central. That game and their second game against Danville are both scheduled to take place at Leslie County because the Bulldogs are having some work done on their field and lights.

“I think everybody has to go through it,” Howard said. “The good thing about it is we have a lot of kids who played last year and that helps. I think you’ll see some spots early in games where we may have a different lineup from Week 1 to Week 2, to Week 3 and even Week 4 because we don’t know. With two scrimmages in the past, you had a lot of time to figure out where these kids need to play. My staff and myself, we’re going to put kids in places where they can make the whole team more successful and where they are going to be the most successful. It’s going to take a while to figure that out and we’ve told them that and we have eight games to do that and hopefully, we’ll have five weeks of playing after that. We’re hoping we get to play 13 games this year. It’s like anybody else, the reason why you practice and play is to win a state championship. That’s our goal.”

After that, Hazard will go on the road five straight games before ending the season at home against Whitley County.

As of right now, the season is set to kickoff September 11.

The KHSAA Board of Control is scheduled to meet August 20 and discuss the upcoming season once more before practice begins.

“We just want to play and hopefully, we get that opportunity,” Howard said.

The 2020 schedule of the Hazard Bulldogs:

Date        Opponent        Site

Sept. 11        Floyd Central        Leslie

Sept. 18        Danville        Leslie

Sept. 25        Paintsville        Away

Oct. 2        Somerset        Away

Oct. 9        Harlan County        Away

Oct. 16        Pikeville        Away

Oct. 23        Phelps            Away

Oct. 30        Whitley County        Home       

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