Heathwood Hall (8-0) vs. Hammond (8-0)
Tonight, 7:30 p.m., Edens Stadium, Columbia
Mac Whalen, QB. Whalen is a threat on every play, no matter the down and distance. He leads Heathwood Hall in rushing with 909 yards and 18 touchdowns, and has thrown for 1,350 yards with eight touchdowns.
Aaron Walters, WR. A senior, he offers experience and talent to the Skyhawks cause. Teaming with junior quarterback David Nidiffer, Walters has caught 37 passes for 662 yards and 12 touchdowns.
The turnover game
Both teams are stingy with the ball but that will amplify the impact should one commit a turnover. Heathwood Hall has routinely used turnovers, particularly fumbles, to create short-field situations to aid its potent offense. Hammond's defense has recovered five fumbles and picked off four passes.
Breaking the rhythm
Hammond's offense is deadly in its efficiency and big-play capability. Nidiffer has completed 68 percent of his passes with 24 touchdowns and six interceptions. Walters has caught 37 passes while dropping two. But the Highlanders use a variety of fronts to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks. This will be an interesting chess match.
Each side has defenders capable of winning the game. Heathwood Hall linebackers Walker Sojourner (104 tackles, eight sacks) and Morgan Whalen (76 tackles, four sacks, two interceptions) are terrors. Hammond has Joseph McDougal, who has eight tackles for losses, five sacks, two fumble recoveries and four quarterback pressures.
"We know what to expect. They play the 4-3 (defense) but they play it really, really well. We have to try to develop something in the run game. We have to be able to at least do seomthing on the ground." - RIP BLACKSTONE, Heathwood Hall coach
"What people don't talk about is their defense. They are slippery guys. Their two linebackers are extraordinary. They force a lot of turnovers." -ERIK KIMREY, Hammond coach
Hammond 17, Heathwood Hall 13
The game of the year in SCISA - so far. This one decides the region championship and seeding for the playoffs. These two could meet again in the postseason. Hammond's homefield advantage and experience should help it on this night.