Phone: 800-489-0649 - Email:
Pickens, Bennett, & Dukes Headline Top Senior Football Players being Honored At the 34th Annual HSSR All-State Awards Banquet In The Grand Ballroom At Seawells

Pickens, Bennett, & Dukes Headline Top Senior Football Players being Honored At The 34th Annual HSSR

All-State Awards Banquet In The Grand Ballroom At Seawells  

(this artcile is written for our specail banquet issue Sunday at 4 p.m. at Seawells and is being shared with the HSSR readership)  

By Billy G. Baker


Columbia—The first ever HSSR all-state football banquet was held in February, 1988 as a celebration of the Top 100 Senior prospects in the state of South Carolina, as rated by the publication with input from high school and college coaches.

This first of its kind recognition banquet was sponsored by the South Carolina Army National Guard and the event was held at the armory off Bluff Road, a few blocks away from where Seawells is located today. The event was so popular that it grew into more of an all-state football banquet within a couple years for all classifications of football, including both SCHSL and SCISA schools. The event out-grew the seating capacity of the armory by the mid-1990’s when a larger venue at Seawells began serving as the caterer for the event.

The purpose of the HSSR football recognition banquet is to have a gathering of the players from freshman (all-rookie) to senior and reward the players for their sweat equity and participation in the great game of football. Some experts have listed South Carolina as the fourth best state per population in America for NFL talent and we certainly agree being on the front lines of the whole process ourselves.

Every major college football program in the nation receives a free copy of the HSSR 64- page publication every month from Arizona to Penn State and all schools in between. Simply put, the HSSR strives to get our football players evaluated by as many colleges as possible.  In 1986, when the publication started the state of South Carolina averaged producing 12 to 15 major college football prospects a year.  For the past 15 years the state has averaged around 45 major college prospects a year and that is just about where we stand for the 2018 season.

The HSSR is proud to honor both all-state football players, Coaches of the Year, Players of the Year, an All-rookie teams and many of the HSSR Top 100 senior prospects, not named all-state, are also being honored today. In this banquet room today, several players are not only going to attend big college programs all over the nation, a select few will be millionaires in a few years by signing on with the NFL after their college careers all over.

Today the HSSR honors our Mr. Career football honoree in Summerville quarterback Johnathan Bennett, a four- year starter for the Green Wave who has signed with Liberty, Bennett told the HSSR earlier, “I will always be grateful for what the football program at Summerville did for me,” he said. I will cherish those moments with my brothers forever. I know the younger guys behind me will be ready to carry the program forward. “

Bennett threw for 2,337 yards and 32 touchdowns while rushing for 707 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2018. For his career he passed for over 5,000 yards and accounted for over 1,700 yards rushing. When he arrived on the scene at Summerville his freshman year head coach Joe Call told the HSSR, “Johnathan has the potential to be our best football prospect since A.J. Green. ” He is just a natural athlete with great instincts for the game.”  

The single season 2018 HSSR Mr. Football by the HSSR is already enrolled at USC in the person of five- star defensive end Zacch Pickens who helped lead T.L. Hanna to the AAAAA finals this season. Pickens was a star on both sides of the football, but most observers see him as an instant starter for the Gamecocks at weakside defensive end this season.

Pickens (6-5, 283) finished the 2018 season with around 900 yards rushing and 23 touchdowns...  He averaged 9 yards a carry. Pickens had over 90 tackles with 15 TFL on defense. He has great potential for the NFL one day. Pickens committed to South Carolina at the end of Spring practice in May when he told a crowd of players and fans gathered around him on the field, “South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp recruited me himself for the past two years and in my heart, I feel like South Carolina is where I need to be,” said Pickens.

The HSSR is also proud to honor Clemson bound and First Baptist football and basketball star Mikey Dukes as the 2018 Lonnie Robinson Memorial senior SCISA MVP.

Dukes told ESPN after his commitment, “They stayed with me throughout the process, ever since I was a freshman,” Dukes said of Clemson. “Some colleges offered and left, but Clemson stayed consistent communicating with me. Then, when I would visit, it would always feel like home.”

Dukes finished his five- year career with 8,762 yards rushing including 117 career touchdowns. He averaged 12.8 yards a carry.  He also caught 43 passes for 743 yards and 9 more touchdowns.

The 5th annual prestigious John McKissick Coaching Excellence Award will be bestowed upon Chester head coach Victor Floyd today.  Coach Floyd led the Cyclones to a 15-0 AAA championship season. “I consider John McKissick the best to every coach high school football so to get an award with his name on it is super special,” said Coach Floyd. “I give all the credit to my kids; they are the ones who went out and played their hearts out this season.”  

The HSSR-SCHSL AAAAA player of the Year is Dutch Fork junior quarterback Ty Olenchuk who has committed to play baseball at Clemson. The AAAA Player of the year is junior five-star rated quarterback Luke Doty of Myrtle Beach a firm commitment to South Carolina while the AAA Player of the year is Chester athlete Pha’leak Brown who has signed with Illinois State. The AA Player of the Year is Abbeville running back Cortney Jackson who recently signed with Coffeeville Community College in Kansas. The Class A player of the Year is sophomore running back prospect JaQuan Dixon of state champion Green-Sea Floyds.

From the SCISA ranks the AAA Player of the Year is Hammond junior quarterback Jackson Muschamp who passed for over 3,000 yards in leading the Skyhawks to their 10th state title since 2006. In AA Florence Christian senior running back Eli Brayboy will take home the Player of the Year award. In SCISA Class A running back Trey Pusha is the Player of the Year and in SCISA 8-Man two of the top-rated players in the 2020 class in South Carolina in junior quarterback Dawson Coleman and junior running back De’Shaun Epps.

In the HSSR-SCISA Coach of the year ranks, Eric Kimrey of Hammond takes AAA top coaching honors, while Neil Minton of  Florence Christian is the AA Coach of the Year. Nic Shuford of Thomas Heyward is the Class A coach of the Year while veteran coach mark Clifford of Beaufort Academy is the 8-man Coach of the Year.

© 2017 High School Sports Report

Scroll To Top