Worth County 5-0 under freshman coach Hammond
Hammond said he wasn’t sure what to expect going into the season.
“Being new here and not playing a spring game, I was really curious how we would compete and how we would handle the lows,” he said. “Nothing is going to be perfect – there’s no such thing as a perfect game. Something negative is always going to happen. So when you come to a place that’s broken down and they haven’t had a winning season for several years, you wonder how they’re going to handle the situation when things don’t go your way.
“This group has been, really, a lean-on-each-other type team. Some games the defense plays the lights, while the offense doesn’t play so well. Or vice versa. Against Upson-Lee and Berrien, we played well in attack but not the best in defense. We are always looking to put on our best football game.
Region 1 has traditionally been one of the most competitive regions in 2A and it is still the case this year. The Rams take on the traditional powerhouse Dodge County (1-4, 0-1) on Friday, then the best Fitzgerald (5-0, 1-0) the following week. The Purple Hurricane beat the Indians 20-12 last week.
After Jeff Davis (0-5, 0-1) and Sumter County (1-3, 0-0), the Rams close the regular season with No. 4 Cook (4-1, 1-0).
“Dodge County is the best 1-4 football team I’ve ever seen,” Hammond said. “They lost to three undefeated teams (1ADI’s No. 7 Bleckley County and Swainsboro’s No. 1, and 2A’s top-ranked Fitzgerald) who are well-ranked, and you can tell they would love to have that one. of West Laurens (a 14-12 loss). They are a very good football team and a traditional powerhouse that is not used to losing. They’re used to deep playoffs and winning their region, and it’s going to be a really tough place to go play.
Hammond comes to Worth County as a longtime assistant, mostly at South Georgia, having made the playoffs with Colquitt County and Coffee, including three title game appearances with the Packers. He also coached Foley (Alabama) for two seasons and in his only other stint as coach at Georgia he went 1-9 at Spalding in 2019.
He said he took the lessons learned at every practice stop with him in Worth County.
“Spalding was a great learning experience for me,” he said. “We started a lot of freshmen and sophomores, but we were competitive. Some of the best coaching I’ve done was that season, and I only won one game. But they competed and they got better. It took us longer to see the results.
At Moultrie, he was on the 2010 Packers staff when they started 0-3, entered the playoffs 5-5 and reached the 5A Championship as the No. 3 seed.
“It’s about getting into the state tournament,” Hammond said. “Once that becomes the norm, you find ways to win playoff games.”
Hammond’s long-term goal is for the Rams to be the consistent state powerhouse they were from 1984 to 1991 under Milt Miller, when they played in four state championships, reached the semifinals at six times, winning four regional titles and winning the 3A title in 1987. .
“That’s the goal, but we’re at the start of the process,” he said. “We have to keep doing our thing, and in 2-3 years we should be competing at the state level.”
Hammond said this year’s team will go as far as the 3-3-5 formation defense, led by senior linebacker Taylor Fluellen (43 tackles, 10 tackles for loss), takes them.
“We have to keep improving in every position on that side of the ball and I think they are,” Hammond said.
Offensively, senior dual-threat Chip Cooper leads the way. He has 71 of 119 passes for 815 yards and eight touchdowns to zero interceptions, and he has 69 carries for 325 yards and six touchdowns. Freshman Kaden Chester has 481 yards and six touchdowns on 88 carries.
Hammond wanted to see improvement in the team’s running game this year, and so far he’s seen it behind an offensive line that features four new starters, including three sophomores.
“You see the growth,” he said. “We had difficult times and very good times.”
Hammond has the same three goals every season – making the playoffs, winning the region and winning the state. All three are still intact.
“We just have to take it one at a time,” he said. “If you win three regional games, chances are you’re a playoff team. Win four, and maybe you’re a No. 2 or No. 3 seed. Win five, and you’re a No. 1 or 2. Right now, we’re on Dodge County.