The hype might have subsided since the Hilton Head at Hanahan Region 8-AAA showdown won’t be a battle of undefeated teams. But Friday’s game is still almost off the charts when it comes to importance.
“This can clinch the region championship and set us up well for the playoffs,” Hanahan coach Charlie Patterson said. “If we win, we’ll get to play at least the first two rounds of the playoffs at home. After that, it might be up in the air.”
The Hawks are enjoying their best season in a decade and enter the clash with the No. 2 state ranking, thanks to an 8-0 record, 3-0 in league play. Hilton Head was undefeated until last week when Orangeburg-Wilkinson dominated the Seahawks and posted a 35-7 victory. Hilton Head makes the trip up the coast with a 7-1, 2-1 mark.
Orangeburg-Wilkinson is the same team that led Hanahan 21-0 at halftime a few weeks ago. But the Hawks railed for an impressive 28-21 road victory. Patterson refuses to say his team is the favorite in Friday’s game at Wiley Knight Stadium despite the common opponent.
“You can’t go by scores,” Patterson said. “We looked at the scores and saw that Orangeburg-Wilkinson beat Edisto by one touchdown. We best Edisto 45-7. If you would have compared scores, we should have walked over Orangeburg-Wilkinson. That obviously didn’t happen. Teams match up differently against other teams.”
It’s been a season to remember for Hanahan, which has been one of the most dominant teams in the state.
The Hawks returned 10 starters on defense and have responded by pitching four shutouts while holding another two foes to seven points.
The offense was a question mark, but is now an exclamation point. The Hawks are averaging 43.7 points per game and have been held below 35 points only one time this season.
The concern was replacing all-state quarterback Anthony Smalls. His replacement, Mason Schwerlzer, might not be as athletic, but he’s a field general – and a winner.
He’s passed for 1,680 yards and 22 touchdowns, completing 63 percent of his passes.
“He is a big part of our success,” Patterson said. “We knew he had talent, and he had experience. But he hadn’t been in that stressful big-game situation.”
Terrell Green, a 6-4 wide receiver, has been a force after missing most of last season with an injury. He’s caught 28 passes for 547 yards and nine scores. Sam Denmark is right behind with 27 catches for 581 yards and seven scores.
But offenses have to be balanced to be effective, and that’s where Quan Wade enters the picture. He’s averaging more than seven yards per carry and is well on his way to a 1,000-yard season. He has 783 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The Hawks conclude the regular season next week with a home game against Stall. Hilton Head concludes with a home game against Berkeley.