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Dillon High School

Dillon Hosting Talented Strom Thurmond In First Round Of AAA Football Playoffs

By Billy G. Baker

Publisher

Dillon—In the words of Dillon head football coach Jackie Hayes, fresh off becoming the youngest coach in state history to reach 300 career wins, first round playoff opponent Strom Thurmond is “the best team we have faced in the past four years, other than Mallard Creek and Chapman last year.”

The Rebels (6-4) come into Dillon this week fresh off a 14-13 win over Brookland-Cayce last week. “Strom Thurmond has two players on the Shrine Bowl and they are a lot like Dillon in the fact they are hard-nosed, like to run the football, and are fundamentally sound on defense,” said Coach Hayes. “They are by far the best team we have had to play so far this season.

“They have a big tailback (Jaquan Edwards) who runs hard and they have another player who is around 6-3, 235 who plays receiver, and their quarterback moves around a lot, and he looks like a man among boys on film,” said Coach Hayes. “We know once the playoffs begin we have to step up our play a notch or two. We have to be focused and avoid turnovers this week. We have to bring our “A” game for sure.”

Since our last report Dillon has defeated Loris, 39-20; Aynor, 45-14; Georgetown, 55-7 and Lake City, 42-0.

The good news as Dillon enters the playoffs is they are as healthy as they have been all season. Drop end and Appalachian State commitment ZaReon Hayes (6-2, 235) has returned to the line-up after missing several games due to a shoulder injury. Hayes scored on a 33 yard run in the Wildcats win over Lake City in the regular season finale last week. North-South running back selection Jalen Williams (5-11, 200) netted 111 yards on 18 carries including an 11 yard touchdown run against Lake City also.

“Jalen waited his turn to be the starting running back his senior year at Dillon and he has made the most of his opportunities and he has had an outstanding season and he is our go-to running back,” said Coach Hayes. “He gives you all he has on every play.”

Sophomore quarterback Jay Lester continues to improve each game. “Jay has had a solid first year for us and he is getting more comfortable in the position with every game,” said Coach Hayes. “He gives us a chance to win every game with his good game management skills.”

In the offensive line three year center starter Dawson Dove (6-1, 295) has been selected to play in the North-South all-star game at Myrtle Beach in December. “Dawson is a three year starter who works real hard and he is one of our leaders in the offensive line,” said Coach Hayes. “He has been one of our senior leaders.”

Junior left tackle Khalil Bethea (6-1, 240) has been a solid performer in the line along with right tackle Jalen Young (6-1, 250) who shares time with Hunter Lane. Austin Allen and Damien McLaurin are sharing time at left guard. Tony Coleman is at right guard. Jackson Hayes is the primary tight end with Tyqaun Porter, Ty Rogers, Corrian Wright, and Ahmar Bruce-Huggins all sharing time as receivers.

On defense senior defensive back Tyquan Porter has been selected for the Shrine Bowl and he is near the top in the state with 9 interceptions. Porter is also a sure-handed receiver. “Tyqaun has made several big time plays on both sides of the ball for us this season and he has a good future in the game,” said Coach Hayes. “He is one of our most versatile players.”

The Nasty Cats of defense have been led by linebacker Dray Thompson (6-0, 200) with 76 total tackles and highly regarded junior drop end/linebacker Shamar McCollum (6-4, 215) who has 63 tackles and four sacks. Other top hitters on defense include defensive lineman Shakai McCollum with 53 tackles and a team leading seven sacks along with linebacker Jer’Darius McDaniels with 53 tackles and Ty Cabbagestalk has 44 tackles and two sacks to date.

From the secondary Daizon Alford has 33 hits and Rodney Owens and RaeKwon McKoy have 26 tackles each. Wright, Porter and Joseph Burns each have 22 tackles and TaeRun Bogan and Javonta Davis round out the tackle leaders with 21 and 18 tackles respectively.

Last week the Nasty Cats held Lake City to minus 27 yards rushing on 22 carries. The Panthers completed 9 of 19 passes for 60 yards. Dillon gained 316 net yards rushing on 42 plays against the Panthers. Lester loosened up the box by completing 11 of 15 passes for 147 yards including a 45 yard scoring toss to Wright.

As a team Dillon concluded the regular season undefeated for the 5th time going back to 2004, 2011, 2014, 2015 and this season. They have out-scored teams 427-109. As a rushing team the Wildcats have gained 2,676 yards on 375 carries averaging 7.1 yards a carry. Their opponents have rushed for a net 544 yards on 296 carries for 1.8 yards per carry average. Through the air Lester has completed 91 of 157 passes for 1,204 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Williams is the top Wildcat rusher with 1,081 yards on 141 yards and 11 touchdowns. Hayes is at 379 yards on 36 carries and he has scored 10 touchdowns averaging 10.5 yards a carry. Lester has shown dual threat talent adding 376 yards on the ground with four touchdowns. Corrian Wright, Isiah Benjamin, and Ty Rogers have gained 200, 179, and 167 yards respectively.

The top receivers are balanced between Rogers with 20 catches for 245 yards and two touchdowns, Ahmar Huggins-Bruce has 17 catches for 222 yards and Porter has caught 15 passes for 219 yards and three scores. All five of these receivers are averaging over 12 yards per catch.

“I have been real pleased with our kicking game also,” said Coach Hayes. “We would be comfortable letting Ahmad Dawad try a field goal from 45 yards in.”

Dawad had made 52 of 58 PAT’s and one field goal from 40 yards. He has also punted 8 times for a 37.5 yard average with a long of 43. Lester has also punted 23 times with a long of 48 yards.

The top scorers on the team are Williams with 78 points, Wright has 66 followed by Dawad at 61 and Hayes is at 60.

“We know that once the playoffs start we have to play at a championship level of effort and intensity every week,” said Coach Hayes. “You have to practice hard every day for five weeks and it is our goal to be there in the end.

“It is very important to win your region and have home field for the playoffs and avoid having to endure two and three hour bus rides everywhere,” he said. “We love playing at home in front of our fans. At this point we feel like we are real good in all three phrases of the game, but not quite great just yet. We know we have to play at a high level and avoid turnovers. This week will be our biggest challenge all season.”

Hayes Honored At District Office Following 300th Win After Georgetown Win

After Dillon Head Coach Jackie Hayes became the youngest head coach in South Carolina prep football history to win 300 games on October, 20th a special ceremony was hosted by Superintendent Ray Rogers in the auditorium at the district office following the historic 55-27 win over Georgetown.

On the field after the game Coach Hayes was presented with a “Golden Football” that will be inscribed with “300” wins along with the date and score of the game. Superintendent Rogers made a few remarks from the field upon presenting the award to Coach Hayes and his family who joined him at the event.

A short while later around 100 fans and supporters attended a reception at the district office on the campus of Dillon High School. “I thanked Jackie for making me look like a genius when I hired him back in 1992 after we had gone through two seasons resulting in a record of 1-21,” said Mr. Rogers. “I know of no on else who has accomplished 300 wins in just 26 seasons. His record speaks for itself and we are thankful for all that he has done for the community.”

Coach Hayes told those in attendance he was thankful for the opportunity to be the head football coach at Dillon and he even thanked former Lake View head coach Jewell McLaurin, who attended the ceremony with the current Lake View coaching staff, for not wanting the job Coach Hayes so desperately wanted back in 1992.

Coach Hayes was pleased to have his entire family on hand including South Carolina assistant equipment manager Shuler Hayes who was able to attend due to the Gamecocks having a bye week. Coach Hayes was surrounded by wife Mandy, daughter, Elle, and son Zach who is an assistant coach with him at Dillon.

Coach Hayes told the HSSR afterwards, “Over the years we have had hard working players and dedicated coaches and it takes a group effort to have success,” said Coach Hayes. “The support from the school administration and the community itself has also been outstanding.

“I can’t thank Ray Rogers enough for taking a chance on me when a lot people in the community were hoping Jewell would take the job,” said Coach Hayes. “Mr. Rogers has always been very supportive and willing to help us get the resources we needed in order to be successful. I am also thankful for all the hard work from players and coaches through the years.

“It is a true blessing to be able to live and work in the community I grew up in. Dillon is a special place for me and it has been a team effort with many people pulling the wagon in the same direction.”

Mr. Rogers said two central things are at the core of Coach Haye’s legacy that is still ongoing. “Number one, he came back home after college and helped build his high school team into a power house in football with a rich tradition and every team in South Carolina respects the Dillon Wildcats because of him.

“Number two, and just as significant, Jackie has championed the fight to secure more funding for poor rural public schools across the state of South Carolina as a member of the South Carolina General Assembly,” said Rogers. “He has been a strong voice in Columbia for better funding of rural school districts. I honesty do not know where we would be in Dillon right now if were not for his work in the legislature where he is well respected by his peers.”

 

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