The Hammond dynasty continues.
For the eighth time in the past 10 years, the Skyhawks sit atop SCISA Class 3A after a 29-13 victory over Pinewood Prep Saturday at Benedict’s Charlie W. Johnson Stadium.
“We’ve had 10 years of special relationships with a lot of great kids, talented kids and talented coaches,” Hammond coach Erik Kimrey said. “Our school is committed to excellence across the board and to be a part of that is humbling.”
The win was Hammond's 25th consecutive victory and its record is 121-10 over the past 10 years.
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Hammond (12-0) used a quick start, then turned it over to its defense like it has so many other times this season.
It was the defense that got things started. On the third play of the game, Pinewood Prep quarterback Jack DiMuzio fumbled in his own end zone. The Panthers were able to fall on the loose ball for a safety, but the Skyhawks led 2-0.
A couple of possessions later, Graham Smith connected with Jack Theodore on a 61-yard scoring play. On the final play of the first quarter, Smith found an open Lucas Prickett for a 94-yard catch-and-run to make it 15-0.
“This is Pinewood’s first making it to the state championship and they might have been a little jumpy off the bat,” Smith said. “We took advantage of that and put in two quick scores.”
That set the stage for the defense. It limited Pinewood Prep (11-2) to 97 yards in the first half and 214 for the game. Hammond never allowed the Panthers to get their ground game going, and held them to 32 yards on 30 attempts. That total included six sacks.
DiMuzio found some passing room in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to mount the comeback. Pinewood Prep pulled within 22-13 on a 7-yard scoring run by Leslie Redden, but the two-point conversion fake failed to deep it a two possession game.
The Skyhawks salted it away with 4:33 remaining when Malik Bennett raced 42 yards for a touchdown.
Pinewood Prep was still within striking distance in the first half before Hammond’s George Folline stepped in front of an errant pass and returned it 53 yards for a touchdown. That put the Skyhawks up 22-0 and the dynasty seemed destined to stay intact.
Graham Smith: The senior quarterback directed the Hammond attack flawlessly and hit the big plays when he needed too. He completed 9 of 14 for 218 yards and touchdowns of 61 and 94 yards.
Malik Bennett: It was slow going for the Hammond run game most of the night, but Bennett ended with 109 yards on 15 carries. His 42-yard score with 4:33 started the celebration for Hammond.
Isaac Mikell: The sophomore linebacker recorded two of the six Hammond sacks and was instrumental in disrupting the Pinewood Prep attack.
8: Number of state titles for Hammond in past 10 years.
197: Yards covered by three offensive touchdowns for Hammond. The Skyhawks had 377 total yards.
THEY SAID IT
“It’s been a tremendous year. These guys have had a lot of pressure on them and they’ve handled it beautifully. We couldn’t be prouder as coaches.” – Hammond coach Erik Kimrey
“Our defense was tremendous all year and it was tremendous again. There’s no name that stands out but they’ve been the strength of our team all year. We’ve been able to be conservative on offense because of that.” – Kimrey
“It’s always tough to get into an early deficit especially when you’re playing a well-coached team. We had to try and climb our way out of it. We got it back to two scores but they got the big run to push them back over the edge.” – Pinewood Prep coach Michael Wright
“It’s an incredible feeling. It’s my first time ever making it this far and to seal the deal has no words to describe it.” – Hammond QB Graham Smith
HOW THEY SCORED
H - Safety, fumbled recovered in end zone by Pinewood Prep 10:24
H – Jack Theodore 61 pass from Graham Smith (Sean Hutchison kick) 1:08
H – Lucas Prickett 94 pass from Smith (kick blocked) 0:00
H – George Folline 53 interception return (Hutchison kick) 1:45
PP – Leslie Redden 2 run (Ryan Huiet kick) 0:00
PP - Redden 7 run (run failed) 11:16
H – Malik Bennett 42 run (Hutchison kick) 4:33
Rushing: PP – Leslie Redden 16-63, Matthew Latham 2-1, D’Angelo Knight 1-(-1), Jack DiMuzio 9-(-25), Team 2-(-6). H – Malik Bennett 16-109, Graham Smith 7-36, Anthony Wilson 3-4, Jack Theodore 1-(-1), Team 3-11.
PP – DiMuzio 21-37-2-182. H – Smith 9-14-0-218.
PP – Michael Wright Jr, 7-93, Knight 6-30, Tatum Rowland 5-42, Redden 3-17. H – Lucas Prickett 3-128, Theodore 3-63, Brad Lewis 2-17, Bennett 1-10.