High School Sports

Football: Hammond at Heathwood Hall

Site: Highlander Stadium. Time: 7:30 p.m.

Storyline: Two-time defending SCISA Class 3A champion Hammond must beat archrival Heathwood Hall to avoid the possibility of having to open the playoffs on the road for the first time in Erik Kimrey’s tenure. If Hammond wins out in the regular season, the Skyhawks will be in the same position as a year ago and enter the playoffs as a No. 1 seed and the team to beat. The Highlanders, on the other hand, need a win to stay in the running for at least a share of the SCISA Region 1-3A championship.

Hammond notes: The Skyhawks (7-1, 1-1) have rebounded nicely since suffering a stunning 33-26 loss to Ben Lippen on Oct. 3. Hammond has since crushed Cardinal Newman (42-6) and Laurence Manning Academy (42-14) … Despite the rainy condistion last week, senior quarterback Cliff Ayers went 14-for-19 passing for 353 yards and four touchdowns last week vs. LMA. Ayers now has 2272 yards passing this season with 19 scoring passes, and has an eye-opening completion rate of completion rate of 70% … Senior receiver Aaron Walters was Ayers’ favorite target last week, finishing with seven catches for 193 yards and two scores. Kyle George and Taylor Smith also hauled in scoring passes … Les Cotter led the ground attack with 94 yards and one TD on 13 carries, George also had a scoring run … Hammond rolled up 505 yards on offense, while the defense allowed just 163 ... Hunter McMaster had 10 tackles and one sack, Will Patterson had nine tackles and one sack and Joseph McDougal had eight tackles, one tackle for loss and one sack. Smith and George chipped in one interception apiece to the cause … In season terms, Walters the Hammond receiving corps with 44 catches for 840 yards and nine scores, followed by Smith (35-697-5) and George (22-425-3). George leads the team in rushing (612 yards) and scoring (12 TDs) … Patterson is the star on defense with 81 tackles and nine sacks on the books so far.

Heathwood Hall notes: The Highlanders (6-2, 1-1) made quick work of Thomas Sumter Academy last week, hitting the host Generals for 35 first-quarter points on the way to a 44-0 triumph … Quarterback Mac Whalen had 77 yards rushing and two touchdowns and was 13-for-18 passing for 203 yards and three scores. Morgan Whalen led all receivers with five catches for 103 yards and one TD … Walker Sojourner and Morgan Whalen had big games on defense, Sojourner finished with a team high11 tackles, and two tackles for loss. Whalen had eight tackles and two interceptions, returning one for a touchdown … Mac Whalen can go over the 1,000-yard mark on the ground and the 2,000-yard mark through the air this week. The junior star leads the team in rushing with 956 yards and 11 TDs on 133 carries, and is 134-for-217 passing for 1881 yards and 19 scores … Morgan Whalen should break the 1,000-yarrd receiving barriers this week. He has 54 catches for 982 yards and eight touchdowns (10 TDs overall). Senior Davis Ray has 34 catches for 532 yards and eight TDs, is averaging 35.7 yards per punt and leads the team with five interceptions … Sojourner has a slight lead (86-82) over Redding Kingery in the tackle department. Sophomore Jamey Mears has 74 tackles and leads the team with four sacks.

Series history: The Midlands’ original independent school rivalry is dead even at 13 wins apiece since the first meeting in 1982. But there has actually been little give-and-take through the years. One side or the other has been dominant for significant stretches. Hammond won eight in a row between 1989 and 1996, while Heathwood Hall prevailed eight straight times over seven seasons (1999-2005). Hammond ended the Highlanders run with a 20-16 win in 2006, and followed with a 27-20 win last season.