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Dillon High School

 

Dillon eyes fifth state title in last six seasons

By Billy G. Baker

Publisher

Dillon—Having won five out of the last six state championships they have played in over the past six seasons, the top ranked Dillon Wildcats (8-0) begin their quest for another championship season by hosting Ridgeland-Hardeeville in the first round of the AAA playoffs on November 9th.

“First of all, we are over the hurricane issues and all our players are accounted for and we are healthy coming into the playoffs,” said head coach Jackie Hayes who is also the South Carolina head Shrine Bowl coach this season. “No doubt our goal is to win another championship. Our players understand the hard work and commitment it takes to compete for and win championships. As long as they keep this in mind we will be okay.”

As for this week’s opponent Coach Hayes said, “Will Lampkin (first year head coach) and I go back quite a while and he is a program builder and he’ll turn things around at Ridgeland-Hardeeville. He is a good football coach and we know he’ll have his team ready to play this week.”   

Since our last report Dillon has defeated Aynor 48-0, Lake City 42-7, Cheraw 53-7 and Marion 49-6.  A scheduled game with Marlboro County was cancelled due the effects from Hurricane Florence that caused school to be out for more than a week back in September.  To date Dillon has out-scored teams 371 to 54 making them among the top defense in South Carolina in all classifications.

In the most recent win over Marion the one-two punch of freshman running back Nemo Squires (5-10, 185) and junior Tyquan King (6-2, 210) continues to be a winning combination for the Wildcats as King pounded out 140 yards on 11 carries with scoring runs of one and 15 yards and Squires had 70 yards and a touchdown run of six yards.

“We have advantages in the running game when we are able to keep a fresh running back in the game like we have been able to do,” said Coach Hayes. “These two players allow us to do that and they are a solid one-two punch for sure.”

The Wildcats also have another solid running back in Nigel George who gained 102 yards against the Foxes with one touchdown. Dillon running backs tallied 390 yards on 41 carries against Marion. Through 8 games 9 different backs have combined for 2,165 yards averaging 7.2 yards a carry with 33 touchdowns.

The top three rushers on the season are Squires with 733 yards on 89 carries and 11 touchdowns along with King who has 574 yards on 55 carries and 11 touchdowns, George is third on the list with 409 yards on 64 carries and three scores.

Junior quarterback Jay Lester continues to be a good leader on the field.  “He’s having a real good year and he is a true dual threat quarterback for us,” said Coach Hayes. “he dies a good job reading the RPO.” Lester has solid numbers completing 86 of 116 passes for 74 per cent and 12 touchdowns. He is averaging 6.4 yards a carry with 277 net yards on 37 runs.

Dillon has an experienced offensive line that helps makes the stats possible. Tackle Khalil Bethea (6-1, 240) has been a three- year starter and the other tackle is a highly regarded sophomore James Avery Hewitt (6-3, 280). “Bethea is our most experienced senior linemen and Hewitt is just 14 years old and getting better every game,” said Coach Hayes. The other trench leaders include sophomore Knox Jackson at a guard along with junior Tony Coleman (6-0, 265) at the other guard. The center is Rondrick McCrimmon (5-7, 220). Senior Damion McDaniel also sees action in the offensive line.  

The Wildcats have two outstanding receivers in sophomore Ahmari Bruce-Huggins (5-11, 160) and senior Corrian Wright (5-9, 155) who has been on the team four years now. “Both of them do a great job running their pass routes,” said Coach Hayes. “Ahmari is probably the fastest player we have on the team and Corrian is also an excellent return man.”

On defense the Nasty Cats get off the bus focused on tackling someone.  This group of fast and quick head hunters have had 20 tipped passes, recovered seven fumbles, has 12 interceptions, and recoded 27 sacks.  In 214 rushing attempts this season opponents have gained a mere 275 yards averaging just 1.3 yards a carry.

The “Mr. Head Hunter” award thus far this season is claimed by Shrine Bowl selection Shamar McCollum (6-4, 215) who has committed to Wake Forest.  McCollum, an outside linebacker and defensive end, has put on 20 pounds of pure muscle since last season and schools like USC and Clemson are going to be surprised when McCollum hears his name called out in the NFL draft in a few years.

To date McCollum leads the defense with 45 tackles including 5.5 sacks with junior tackle Roy Covington (5-11, 210) next on the hit index with 40 stops including a team leading 7 sacks. Senior tackle Jaziah Evans (5-9,200) has 27 tackles and senior end Shakai Jeanty has 2 tackles including 4.5 sacks.

The linerbacking corp has always been a sense of pride for Dillon. Four-year varsity performer Dray Thompson (6-0, 200) has 33 tackles and two sacks along with Jerdarius McDaniel (6-0,200) who has 37 tackles thus far. Isaiah Benjamin ((5-10, 170) has also been playing linebacker and he has 30 tackles on the season.

The secondary consists    of corners Tyree Porter with 28 hits and Wright who doubles up from offense. The safeties are Daizion Alford and Justin Greene. Joseph Burns and King have contributed also with 20 tackles each along with Travon Johnson and Ty’Reek Cabbagestalk with 17 tackles each.

Coach Hayes the weakest part of his team has been the kicking game, but he is pleased with combo kicker Malachi Bember who is now handling both duties. He made three PAT’s against Marion.      

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