Hawks another county squad eyeing crown
As far as what a team looks like on paper, the Hanahan Hawks have to be considered a legitimate player in the chase for the Class AAA crown this fall.
The Hawks were 11-2 last season and bring back essentially all of the key pieces on their defense. So, if defense truly wins championships, count Hanahan as a force to be reckoned with both in the region and beyond.
“We feel pretty good about the guys we've got (on defense),” Hanahan coach Charlie Patterson said. “I'd say, without question, this is the best defense we've had since I've been here. We've got a lot of guys with experience. We've got a lot of guys that can run. We've got a lot of guys that will hit you.”
The Hawks return 10 starters on that side of the ball from a team that made the third round of the playoffs, and quality depth is an asset at every level, Patterson said. Former Timberland defensive coordinator Steve Blanchard has taken over the HHS defense.
Blanchard sees his group's potential but insists it will only be met with hard work and attention to detail.
“The whole thing about good versus great is how much they want to play together,” Blanchard said. “If nine people are out there doing it right and two are doing it wrong, then you're not going to be successful.
“They have the talent. They're strong. They're fast. They're quick. It's about being fundamentally sound and them doing what their coaches tell them to do.”
Up front, the defensive ends are junior Corbin Heyward, senior Dominique Lucas and senior Bernard Hilliard. The inside players are sophomore Dominique Green, junior Jacob Garibay and senior Vontrel Grant.
Seniors Lyndon Young, Ronald England and Marquise Mack are returning starters at linebacker. Brian Ford and Tre Smalls also factor into the mix on the second level.
Free safety Marlon Washington leads the group coming back in the secondary while Andrew Conyers and Deandre Thompson are corners. Isaiah Williams will play in the secondary too.
Offensively, the Hawks aren't as seasoned. They bring back four starters, but one of those isn't North-South quarterback Anthony Smalls. Smalls piled up passing and rushing yards the last two seasons but is now at South Carolina State.
Patterson said the fact his defense is so strong, it's helping the offense come along.
“It's not like we can get a false sense of being good,” he said.
Hanahan turns over the keys to the offense to Mason Schwerzler, a senior. He's got some weapons around him in bulky running back Quan Wade and wide receiver Terrell Green.
Green, a tall target for Schwerzler, will be one of the top downfield threats in the Lowcountry. The other regular targets will be Saaehim Brooks, Greg Casselmann, Sam Denmark, Kahlim Denmark and Chase Pfaff.
Haven Horlback is a change of pace back and brings more speed and shiftiness to the backfield. Wade is a North-South runner.
Up front, junior right tackle Anthony Tolliver and senior right guard Jacob Billings are returning starters. Junior left tackle Larry Smith (LT), junior Cody Graham (LG) and junior Josh Greenbaum (C) are slated to start at the other spots. Corbin Heyward and Chase Patterson are the tight ends.
Kyle Spigner will be back as kicker/punter.
Hanahan was an overwhelming favorite in Week 0 against Military Magnet and is set to take on county rival Timberland in Week 1 before traveling to natural rival Bishop England on Sept. 6. The Bishops have won two Class AA titles in a row.