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Ridgeland-Hardeeville High School
Ridgeland

 

Jaguars hope late-season momentum carries into playoffs

By Justin Driggers

Consulting Editor

Ridgeland – The Ridgeland/Hardeeville football team ended the regular season the same way it began it – with two straight victories.

The Jaguars defeated Lake Marion 40-18 and followed that up with a 33-25 win over Hilton Head.

“I’ve seen a lot of growth from our young kids,” first-year head coach Will Lampkin said. “We’ve leaned a lot on them at the end. It was kind of like we didn’t have to un-teach them anything – it only took one time for them to learn it and try it.

“And some of the seniors have come through late. So, we’re seeing the fruits of our labor.”

Now RHHS faces its toughest challenge of the year. The Jaguars finished the regular season 4-6 overall and 1-3 in region play. That earned them a date with top-ranked and defending AAA state champion Dillon in the opening round of the playoffs.

“I think it’s what the program needs,” Lampkin said. “We didn’t have any spring practice and no 7-on-7 league this year, so we came into the season very raw. We won four out of 10 games and about two games we pretty much gave away.

“So, those other teams that are in our region are the ones we’re looking to close the gap with.”

Senior quarterback Jertaveon Smalls has been the offensive catalyst this season. He’s thrown for more than 1,100 yards and five scores and rushed for more than 700 yards and seven TDs. Running back Marquese Grant has more than 680 yards rushing and has added six scores while receivers Ronald Zimmerman and Brandon Howard have combined for more than 1,000 yards and six scores.

Defensively, Renea Wright and Michael Murray are among the team leaders in tackles with Wright also leading the way in tackles for a loss and sacks.

Howard and Smalls are also among the team leaders in interceptions.

“We went a way from some of our principles at the end because we’ve sort of felt we’ve been behind on a lot of things,” Lampkin said. “So, we went back to basics. We have tackle, takeaway and pursuit drills every day. We’ve kind of found who we are, and if we can tackle and take the ball away and protect the ball, we feel pretty good about ourselves.”

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