Three Redhawks make all-state
The talent within Monroe High’s football program runs deep from year to year, and the 2012 all-state football team is another indication of the program’s status.
Three players on the Redhawks’ state semifinal team have been named all-state by ncpreps.com.
Senior safety Jermany Hammond, senior QB Quay Chambers and junior linebacker Ashad Byrd represent the Redhawks on the 1A all-state team.
Hammond put up staggering numbers, blocking 14 kicks and eight punts while intercepting 10 passes.
Hammond also made the AP all-state team, which includes all four classifications.
“I was pretty happy about making all-state,” Hammond said. “It’s a great achievement. I was excited when I heard.”
Six Union County players made ncpreps.com’s all-state teams, including Cuthbertson receiver Emmitt Afam in the 2A division along with defensive back Chris Duffy and punter Matt Wogan of 4A Porter Ridge.
Afam, voted the Offensive Player of the Year in the Rocky River Conference by the coaches, scored 23 touchdowns for the Cavs this season. He caught 49 passes for 920 yards (18.8 per catch) and 12 TDs.
Afam is considering an offer from Elon, while Wogan has committed to Oregon and Duffy to UNC Charlotte.
Wogan made USA Today first-team all-American after converting 5-of-7 field goals from beyond 50 yards.
Duffy finished with two interceptions and three pass deflections. Duffy and Wogan helped lead the Pirates to the 4A state title game for the second year in a row.
Chambers, who has committed to Duke, threw for 1,520 yards and 19 TDs against 11 interceptions in 2012, and led the team in rushing with 143 attempts for 1,105 yards and seven scores.
Byrd led the Redhawks in tackles (122) and also had five sacks and three interceptions.
While Byrd has another year of high school, Hammond is now looking into his college options.
Hammond (6-foot, 180 pounds) plans to visit Elon and Johnson C. Smith, among others.
His ability to block kicks is certainly an attention getter.
“Last year I didn’t really lay out for it but this year I practiced it a lot and got used to it,” Hammond said. “Once I got it down, I love to do it.”
Hammond said the key is to find a clear path to the kicker and then give up the body.
“On field goals sometimes they kick me in the mouth and bust my lip,” Hammond said. “The ball will hit my face mask but the foot will get under the mask. It’s just part of it.”
Hammond said he was surprised the day his dad told him how many kicks/punts he was blocking.
“I wasn’t counting,” he said. “I don’t know how I blocked that many. Sometimes we switch or cross. I just try to find ways to come free and then I lay out for it.”
Hammond and the Redhawks finished 11-4 after a 1-3 start.
“We did pretty good,” he said. “The last two years we lost in the third round, so it was good to get past the third round.”
Swain County defeated Monroe 28-21 in the semifinal round, and Chambers missed the second half with a shoulder injury.
“It hurt us a lot to lose Quay,” Chamber said. “But Isaiah (Thomas) came in and gave us a chance. He didn’t practice much at quarterback but he knew all the plays and I was proud of him.”
Hammond would love to see Byrd, Thomas and other returners take the program to the next step and make the state title game next season.
“The program has to try to improve every year,” Hammond said. “They have a good group coming back and they have to try to eliminate what we did wrong. It was a heartbreaker to lose, but at least we got that far. It shows us we can get the job done. You just have to want it.”