Hammonds having sensational senior season
Jermany Hammonds shares the field with more heralded athletes, including three with major college football offers, but he’s easily the most dominant player on Monroe High’s team.
A 6-foot, 185-pound senior safety, Hammonds has a Union County-best nine interceptions for the Redhawks, who are 11-3 heading into Friday’s 1AA state semifinal game at Swain County.
Hammonds’ interception total is a staggering number, and it’s not the only one.
He has also been credited with 14 blocked kicks and eight blocked punts this season (and yes, those key strokes are accurate).
During a five-game stretch starting against Marvin Ridge on Sept. 7, Hammonds blocked 10 kicks and four punts.
In addition to his remarkable ability to block kicks, Hammonds also has 51 solo tackles and 15 assists on the year.
On offense, Hammonds has 22 catches for a team-high 449 yards, and his five touchdown receptions give him a share of the team lead with senior Lavonte Baker.
The high-scoring Redhawks (42.3 ppg) have only have only had to punt 11 times this season, and Hammonds is effective at that as well. He’s averaging 43.3 yards per punt with a long of 55.
Monroe junior linebacker Ashad Byrd (6-0, 170) had his fifth double-digit tackle performance of the season in last week’s 61-31 win over Mount Airy.
Byrd, who ranked second on the team in tackles (85) as a sophomore, now has a team-best 114 tackles in 2012. He also has five sacks and three interceptions on the year.
Monroe’s defense has improved its numbers significantly this season. The Redhawks are allowing 14.3 ppg, compared to 26.4 in 2011.
Byrd is one of nine Redhawks who have combined to score 17 non-offensive touchdown this season, along with Hammonds (three), Lavonte Baker (three), Tristan Thompson (2), Jaqueis Alsobrooks (two), Richard Blakeney (two), Eric Heath (two), Jaylan Barbour (one) and Isaiah Thomas (one).
Thompson finds a home
As a junior, Tristan Thompson started the season at safety but by the end of the year wasn’t playing signficantly.
Thompson has been spectacular as a senior after moving from the defensive backfield to the D-line.
Thompson, listed at 6-2 and 187 pounds, is a speester — he was on Monroe’s 4x100-meter relay team that won the 1A state championship last summer.
His athleticism on the defensive line seems almost unfair, and his stats reflect it.
Thompson has a county-high 15.5 sacks and 14 QB hurries on the season, to go along with 44 solo tackles and 21 assists.
Monroe senior QB Quayshawn Chambers (Duke commitment) has gone over 1,000 yards as a rusher and a passer for the second straight season.
Over the past two years, a span of 28 games, Chambers has passed for 3,039 yards and 39 TDs while rushing for 2,301 yards and 23 TDs.