By Jack Jeffrey | Pinewood Prep Contributor
They don’t get much bigger than this.
Pinewood will line up across from Hammond on Friday. The Skyhawks were the 2018 SCISA 3A state champions, and a team that beat the Panthers 41-9 last season.
Hammond is absolute loaded with big-time prospects including the number two prospect in the country in defensive end Jordan Burch. Burch is reportedly deciding between Alabama, Clemson, South Carolina, and Georgia.
The Panthers will have their hands full on offense and defense. While Burch is a true defensive linemen, he also plays running back on the offensive side of the ball. At 6-5, 250 pounds he makes for an imposing physical specimen that’s nearly impossible to tackle.
Burch had two rushing touchdowns in Hammond’s last game against Charlotte Country Day School, one of which, an 85-yard explosion to the end-zone.
“A team like that, they’re going to get theirs, because they’re a top rated team and they’re a top rated team for a reason. And that’s not inconsistently. That’s year after year after year of being an elite team for fifteen years or so. They have division 1 players so we’re going to have to play hard, play tough, and bridge the highs and lows of the game,” said Pinewood head coach Michael Wright.
The athleticism certainly favors Hammond, but Pinewood did see flashes of offensive firepower with their receiving core in their last contest against Trinity-Byrnes. Josh Higuchi notched 6 catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns. The Panthers will also see their captain and senior quarterback Myron Wigfall return to action this Friday after sitting out of their last game with an ankle injury.
Pinewood struggled on special teams against Trinity-Byrnes, giving up two kickoff returns for touchdowns. “On special teams we’re not taking our best angles coming down the field and making plays and that’s how their running kicks back for touchdowns,” commented Wright.
Pinewood fought back against Trinity-Byrnes after a tough first half but the deficit was too much to comeback from. The Panthers have scored only scored eight points in the first half this season.
Hammond, though, known for being a powerhouse, is sitting at just a 1-2 record and coming off of a close, emotional 24-21 loss to North Carolina 2A champion Charlotte Country Day School last week.
Both teams are coming off tough losses which means both teams are hungry for a win.
“My message to the team is to constantly try to be what we are and play consistently and hustle,” said Wright. “If you do those things you will win a lot of battles and you’ll put yourselves in a lot of good positions to do some good things.”
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