Hammond wrestled the city's private school championship away from Heathwood Hall on Friday night at Johnson Stadium - and at the same time secured its fourth consecutive SCISA Class 3A title.
Hammond dominated from the first play to the last in its 50-20 victory.
"It's amazing," Hammond coach Erik Kimrey said. "It never gets old."
There were some in the preseason and even through a near-perfect regular season who believed Hammond's run of state titles was nearing an end. An inexperienced team with a thin senior class was thought to be Hammond's undoing.
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Then, when Hammond dropped a 10-7 decision to Heathwood Hall during the regular season that ended the Skyhawks' 15-game winning streak, more doubts were planted.
But Hammond responded with a stellar performance, a showing worthy of a champion.
Hammond threw a trio of weapons at Heathwood Hall. Quarterback Dave Nidiffer passed for 269 yards and three touchdowns, Aaron Walters had 194 yards receiving and three scores and running back B.J. Bennett rushed for 136 yards and three touchdowns.
The crowd barely got settled into its seats when Hammond struck. On the game's first play from scrimmage, Nidiffer spotted Walters down the right sideline and combined on a picture-perfect 68-yard touchdown strike.
"On that first play, you could see their morale get real depleted," Walters said.
Although Kimrey had scripted the first play to go the tight end on a drag route, he liked what he saw when Heathwood Hall's defense lined up. He signaled for Nidiffer to go deep.
"I was looking for something, but I knew he was going to be open," Nidiffer said. "I knew he was going to burn by him."
From there, the rout was on.
"It's disappointing tonight. We just didn't play well tonight," said Heathwood Hall coach Rip Blackstone, whose club suffered its only loss during a sterling season. "Right now, it's tough. I'm sure in a week, we'll look back and realize what a great season we had, but it's kind of hard right now."
Blackstone spoke as Hammond celebrated at midfield. In the photo session after the game, Kimrey's first thoughts were of Southern California football coach Pete Carroll, whose "winning forever" philosophy has been the battle cry for Hammond since the end of the 2006 season.
Kimrey went on the Internet to study Carroll's philosophy in coaching and has relayed the "winning forever" message to his team ever since.
"It's about the here and now, focusing in on today, this game, this rep to win," Kimrey said. "When you think about that in the long term, it takes care of the big picture."
The big picture, in this case, was a fourth straight state title.
Hammond 22 7 7 14 - 50
Heathwood Hall 7 0 13 0 - 20
H - Aaron Walters 68 pass from Dave Nidiffer (Les Cotter pass from Gus Inabinet)
HH - Benji Stern 7 pass from Mac Whalen (Cole Fowble kick)
H - Hunter George 9 run (David Tucker kick)
H - B. J. Bennett 1 run (Tucker kick)
H - Bennett 11 run (Tucker kick)
HH - Joseph English 25 pass from Mac Whalen (kick failed)
H - Walters 9 pass from Nidiffer (Tucker kick)
HH - Walker Sojourner 42 punt return (Fowble kick)
H - Walters 11 pass from Nidiffer (Tucker kick)
H - Bennett 1 run (Tucker kick)
First downs 21 14
Rushing 37201 2135
Passing yards 269 187
Passing 14200 17332
Punts 320 439.5
Penalties 220 334
Fumbles 2 2
RUSHING - Hammond, Bennett 25136, Nidiffer 332; Heathwood Hall, Soujourner 735.
PASSING - Hammond, Nidiffer 14200269; Heathwood Hall, Mac Whalen 17332187.
RECEIVING - Hammond, Walters 7194, George 329; Heathwood Hall, English 577, Morgan Whalen 655, Stern 440.