Marcus Lattimore’s game-ball collection just got a little bit bigger.
The former South Carolina great was given a game ball Thursday night after Heathwood Hall’s 42-7 win over Oakbrook Prep in Lattimore’s debut as head coach.
Lattimore said he will likely put the ball from his first win with the others at his mom’s house in the Upstate. His last game ball came as a player for the Gamecocks against East Carolina in 2011.
“Because I am able to make a difference with these kids every single day, this may be No. 1,” Lattimore said where his first victory ranked among his accomplishments. “We worked hard this summer, and we knew it wasn’t going to be perfect. But we came out here and got a win. I am so happy for them and my seniors. It definitely was special.”
Lattimore arrived at school at his normal time around 9 a.m. and made sure things would go smoothly. He had his share of nerves before his debut, almost making him sick, but started to get a little calmer as players arrived closer to game time.
During warm-ups, Lattimore was out in a long-sleeve shirt in the 90-degree temperatures throwing passes and running routes with his players. Lattimore gave about a 45-second speech to his team in the locker room and stayed relatively calm on the sidelines, although there were times he said he wanted grab a helmet himself and get back out there. But that is something he is getting used to in his role as a coach.
“I’m slowly learning you can’t do it for them,” Lattimore said. “You’ve got to trust what you instill in them, and they go out there and, hopefully, execute it. But we got better today.”
The Highlanders scored three touchdowns in a six-minute span in the second quarter to take a 28-0 lead. Daniel Schmitt returned an interception for a score, and Brandon McCullough scored two of his four touchdowns.
“He is a competitor and explosive,” Lattimore said of McCullough. “I am happy for him. He has a bright future. When we put the ball in his hands, he is going to do something special.”
Heathwood travels to defending SCISA 3A champion Ben Lippen next week.
HOW THEY SCORED
HH – Brandon McCullough 1 run (Tanner kick), 3:53
HH – Daniel Schmitt 35 interception return (Tanner kick), 10:58
HH – McCullough 4 run (Tanner kick), 7:22
HH – McCullough 4 run (Tanner kick), 4:30
OP – McNeely pass from Cox, (West kick), 8:28
HH – Olson 25 pass from Beal (Tanner kick), 7:00
HH – McCullough 3 run (Tanner kick), 11:00
Rushing: OP: McNeeley 5-3, Williams 7-12, HH: McCullough 12-52, Buchannan 4-32, Beal 7-26
Passing: OP: Cox 9-16-1 132. HH: Beal 5-12-2 131
Receiving: OP: McNeely 3-42, Harrelson 1-30, Gillard 2-21. HH: Olsen 3-46, King 1-70, Allen 2-15