Hanahan quarterback Mason Schwerzler shines in prime time

All Mason Schwerzler wanted in 2012 was to get on the field.

The Hanahan junior was a backup to quarterback Anthony Smalls, a player so talented he was selected to play in the North-South Game.

The Hawks completed a successful season and Smalls graduated. As the pundits around the state began to speculate about the top teams for 2013, there was one big question about Hanahan: who would be the starting quarterback?

The defense was intact with 10 starters returning. So all that was missing was someone to lead the offense.

Schwerzler answered the call. He’s completed 52 of 82 passes for 1,078 yards for the Hawks, who are 5-0 heading into Friday’s Region 8-AAA showdown at Orangeburg-Wilkinson, also 5-0.

Schwerzler might not be as dynamic as Smalls, but he’s just as dependable.

“He’s a leader, but not necessarily a vocal one,” Hanahan coach Charlie Patterson said. “He leads by example. He was there in the weight room in the summer and he’s on the practice field, helping the younger players pick up the system. The main thing is he knows how to win.”

Schwerzler knew the Hawk faithful wouldn’t forget Smalls overnight.

“I definitely had big shoes to fill,” Schwerzler said. “I got to see up close how great a quarterback Anthony was. This year, I’ve tried to lean on players for their support to make this a better team. It’s working.”

Schwerzler had a big effort last week in a 56-16 victory over Wade Hampton. He completed 11 of 17 passes for 286 yards and six TDs. Hanahan also can run the ball with Quan Wade averaging 10.9 yards per carry. He has 592 yards rushing with nine TDs.

Wide receivers Terrell Green and Sam Denmark are imposing targets. Green has 19 catches for 408 yards and six TDs. Denmark has 17 catches for 334 yards and four scores.

Like many big games, this shootout will be won in the trenches. Orangeburg-Wilkinson has linemen who are college size, according to Patterson.

“The defense has to play well,” the Hawks coach said. “The offense has to move the ball. It has to be a total effort.”