The dream of almost every football player is to one day play in an NFL Stadium. For the Charleston Blazing Hawks semi-professional football team, living that dream is two victories away.
If the Hawks can win two playoff games, beginning with a road contest in Millen, Ga., Saturday, they will compete for the World Minor League Football championship on Nov. 24 at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys. The game is part of Kickoff for a Cause, a daylong series of football matchups.
First, though, the Hawks must win Saturday’s 4 p.m. contest against the East Georgia Rebels, a team that previously beat the Hawks, 24-17. Charleston coach Michael Mack said the team is 8-2 overall with two of those victories coming in the playoffs.
The Charleston Hawks program was begun in the late 1970s by Clay Hampton, who is still associated with the team.
“It was his vision, his idea. We’re just carrying the ball on,” said team vice president Tony Lewis. “We have a great group of guys with pretty good camaraderie. They’re from different areas of the Lowcountry.”
Lewis said the group is talented, plays for love of the game and hopes they get an opportunity to catch someone’s eye and advance to a higher level. Some have been to NFL tryout camps or played in the Arena Football League, Lewis said.
Mack said the Hawks began practicing in July. They practice two days a week at North Charleston High School or Danny Jones Recreation Complex. Home games are played on Saturdays at 7 p.m. at North Charleston High School.
“We have approximately 40 guys who come from a 50- to 60-mile radius,” Mack said. “We don’t get the full 40 (for practices) because of work schedules but we get a good turnout of 25 or 26 every practice.”
There’s a lot of talent, Mack said. Linebacker Mike Hill played at Hanahan High School and Newberry College, and then spent time in the Arena Football League. In the team’s last playoff game, he made 15 tackles, had four assists, recovered two fumbles and had an interception.
The offense is built around quarterback Tramar Williams of Georgetown, who played for Florida A&M, and receiver Tre Young, a former Burke star who played for S.C. State. The other offensive weapon is former West Ashley High School running back Robert Wright.
“We like to run and gun,” Mack said. “We have been successful with that. Our philosophy is to keep things simple and execute. We have a dynamic group of players.”