Hammond ignites Rebels’ rebound
JOHNSTON — When Strom Thurmond High School entered the 2013 football season, it did so with several new faces in its starting lineup. While there have been changes, senior quarterback Jauveer Hammond still directs the offense. Hammond was nearly flawless Friday night, leading the Rebels to an emphatic 42-13 win over Brookland-Cayce.
“It was huge,” said Strom Thurmond head coach Lee Sawyer of the win, a strong statement after a tough Week Four loss to North Augusta. “We don’t like to lose, but we certainly don’t like to lose two in a row.”
Hammond’s Week Six performance was one of his best yet; he completed 13 of 17 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 50 more yards in the rout to open Region 5-AAA play. His dual-threat ability is a perfect fit for the Rebels’ offensive philosophy.
“I think if you run the spread, you need to have a running back back there that can throw,” Sawyer said. “It makes people have to defend two backs back there and then spread out for your passing game, too.”
Hammond and the Rebels turned a 7-7 second-quarter tie with the Bearcats into a laugher, cruising to 35 straight points to put the game out of reach.
“Honestly, the whole game plan that we’ve been reviewing all week at practice (clicked),” Hammond said. “That put a smile on the offense’s faces.”
A steady diet of film study keeps Hammond ahead of the game, allowing him to know what opposing defenses are planning to do before they have the chance to do it. His previous experience in the defensive backfield has also helped.
After beginning his Strom Thurmond career at cornerback, Hammond has made the transition to offense look easy. According to Sawyer, Hammond didn’t hesitate when asked to step in after former Rebel quarterback Raleigh Yeldell graduated.
“(The coaches’ trust to lead) meant a lot,” said Hammond. “It almost made me cry, but I just felt like if they trust me then I trust them, and I feel like I can do it if they feel like I can do it.”
In addition to his athletic ability, Sawyer feels that Hammond’s demeanor and leadership abilities are his best assets.
“He’s a fierce competitor, but he’s always calm,” Sawyer said, adding that Hammond wasn’t rattled by the enormity of the game at North Augusta. “He keeps his teammates around him calm but focused.”
Hammond’s motivation to lead comes from his desire to make everybody else better.
“When I make a play, everybody else is smiling,” he said. “When they make a play, I’m smiling and congratulating them.”
Hammond and the Rebels have an opportunity this season to add to the rich legacy of success at Strom Thurmond. Like everyone else, a championship is the goal. However, Hammond understands the importance of preparation and execution.
“We just want to come out on top, that’s all,” he said. “And show everybody else that we’re hard-working and we’re dedicated just like everybody else in the past, and possibly be better than some people.”
Hammond’s leadership will become even more valuable to the Rebels as they progress further through the season toward the playoffs and beyond.
“I’ve never been in [a championship game] where we didn’t have a good leader at quarterback,” said Sawyer. “A good solid character person, a good competitor; somebody that could rally the people around him to raise their level of play. That’s where he’s so vital. These guys look up to him because they know that no matter what the situation, he’s going to come to play.”
AT A GLANCE
Aiken Standard Player of the Week winners
• Week Zero: Trib Reece, QB, North Augusta
• Week One: Jaquan Williams, RB, Fox Creek
• Week Two: Travious Wigfall, RB/LB, Ridge Spring-Monetta
• Week Three: RJ Stallings, RB/DB, Silver Bluff
• Week Four: Dramel Coleman, Wing/S, Aiken
• Week Five: Antonio Coleman, RB, Williston-Elko
• Week Six: Jauveer Hammond, QB, Strom Thurmond