If Augusta Christian football coach Keith Walton asked his team and Hammond a question, he knows one would show two different answers.
If he asked players to raise their hands if they’ve won a state title, the Hammond sophomores, juniors and seniors would all do so. Plus, considering the senior class is three-for-three, extra arms would be needed if each senior wanted to represent each title.
In all, Hammond has won six consecutive state titles; Augusta Christian hasn’t won it all since 2005.
But the Lions have a chance to end Hammond’s run, beat the Skyhawks for the second time this season and grab a state title. The two meet at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Benedict College in Columbia, for the SCISA Class AAA state championship.
“I knew we had the pieces to be good,” Walton said. “But we have the opportunity to be great.”
So far this season, Augusta Christian has used a dynamic offense and strong defense to get a 12-0 record.
Quarterback Tyler Roberson has been the main yard gainer with his 1,877 passing yards, 986 rushing yards and 41 offensive touchdowns. But Thomas Banks has rushed for more than 1,000 yards and Nick Fortenberry is close to that marker for receiving yards.
Defensively, Gaige Gilbert has 91 total tackles while Terin Quarles has 12 sacks.
So the star power is there. And Augusta Christian has shown it can beat Hammond, mostly by avoiding turnovers and penalties – the usual things. Back in October, the Lions beat Hammond 29-28 after they scored a touchdown and got a two-point conversion with 31 seconds to play.
Also, though Hammond is out to return the favor for the earlier setback this season, the Lions are also the ones looking for payback, considering Hammond beat Augusta Christian in the state playoffs in each of the past two seasons and in back-to-back championship showdowns in 2006 and 2007.
“We got revenge on our minds just like they do,” Roberson said.