With a 33-7 win against Heathwood Hall, the Hammond Skyhawks completed the SCISA 3A regular season this past Friday with an unblemished record.
The Skyhawks are the only area team to roll into the playoffs at 10-0, and coach Erik Kimrey said that perfect record is both help and hindrance.
“It’s a double-edged sword,” he said. “It, certainly, has given us some confidence, but you can’t let that go too far.
“Yes, we finished the regular season undefeated, but that does not make it easier. In fact, I’d argue that it makes it a little harder,” Kimrey said.
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During the regular season, the Skyhawks set the bar high for themselves, averaging 429 yards and 36 points. The defense, led by Davis Bland and D’Andre Lee-Smith, has given up an average of 242 yards per game.
Against Heathwood Hall, the Skyhawks posted 515 yards – bolstered by senior running back T.J. Brady’s school-record 350 yards. Brady scored three touchdowns to become the school’s single-season rushing touchdown leader.
“Our strength is kind of just our cohesiveness. Neither side of the ball has really had a bad game. That’s something that we have to replicate over the next few weeks in order to win more games,” Kimrey said.
Another strength for the team is its conscientious group of seniors.
Nick Garrett, Cantey Heath, Brady, Lee-Smith and Cody Sims are among the dozen seniors who are playing their final games with the Skyhawks this month, and Kimrey said they are working hard to make them count.
“This is a group that is willing to put their head down and do the hard work, the mundane work, day after day, to keep improving.”
Hammond knows it must continue to improve, because the Skyhawks are focused not on the wins they have earned, but on the ones that lie ahead.
“We know we have to win three in a row from here to win the championship, but our focus this week is squarely on Pinewood Prep,” Kimrey said.
The Skyhawks start the playoffs Friday by playing host to Pinewood Prep, a team they defeated 40-17 on Oct. 9.