Hawks capture regional championship with 19-14 win over Manning
The Hanahan Hawks have talent, an experienced and ambitious coaching staff – and the Region 8-AAA championship.
But it didn’t always appear the Hawks would attain the region title, especially after the team began the season with three losses in its first four games.
But coach David Morbitzer challenged the seniors during a heart-to-heart talk. He asked them how they wanted to be remembered. They responded on and off the field: They wanted to be champions.
Mission accomplished as the Hawks will sit on top of the region standings for the first time since the 2015 season.
“We have some big, strong, fast guys who are really talented,” Morbitzer said after his team edged Manning 19-14 Friday night to claim the Region 8-AAA title. “The seniors just stepped up. They created their legacy as champions. They did a great job.”
The season had an ominous start before the first game was even played. Defensive end Cooper Dawson, considered one of the top 10 seniors in this year’s class, suffered a knee injury at a Clemson football camp. The freakish injury was followed by a 1-3 record.
Hanahan’s fourth victory in a row gave the Hawks a 5-3 record, including 4-0 in league play. Manning fell to 6-3, 3-1. The victory also gives the Hawks homefield advantage at least until the Lower State championship.
“It’s great to be in the postseason and it’s even better to be at home,” said Morbitzer, who is in his first year as head coach of the Hawks. “We look forward to playing at home. We have a great community, great community support and the student section gets bigger every week.”
The clash with the Monarchs was a defensive struggle. Manning entered the game allowing only 9.3 points per game. The Hawks found yardage hard to come by, but made it count. Hanahan had 230 yards in total offense with 166 coming on the ground.
Gale Ball led a balanced running game with 16 carries for 89 yards. Shiron Hart carried 12 times for 84 yards and scored a touchdown. Hunter Mills made the most of his four carries. He netted only five yards but scored on two short plunges.
Quarterback Mac Blakeney completed 7 of 13 passes for 66 yards. Wesley Crain was the top receiver with four receptions for 56 yards.
The Hawks’ defense has been impressive during the winning streak. They have allowed just 35 points in their last five games. The stoppers bent but didn’t break. They gave up 322 yards in total offense, but the Monarchs managed to hit pay dirt only two times.
The Hawks will play only nine regular season games after their game against Garrett Tech was cancelled because of the threat of Hurricane Florence. They play Waccamaw this weekend.
Morbitzer said his team shouldn’t have a letdown after the emotional win.
“At the beginning of the season, we talked about going undefeated in region play,” Morbitzer said. “That pursuit of perfection is what pushed us.”