Catawba Notebook: Hamilton a future star
By Mike London
SALISBURY — While it’s mostly been a struggle for Catawba (2-4) this season, the future looks brighter with talents such as true freshman receiver Tyler Hamilton on the roster.
Catawba was fortunate to land Hamilton, who fell a few SAT points shy of qualifying for the scholarship he hoped to get from N.C. State.
“I was heavily recruited by N.C. State, but Catawba always was my second choice,” the former Charlotte Vance standout said at Tuesday’s press conference.
Former Catawba special-teams terror Sam Greiner is the defensive coordinator at Vance. He brought Hamilton to Catawba camps and was helpful in steering Hamilton and Vance teammate Calvin Hunter, a true freshman who already plays regularly in the secondary, to Salisbury.
Catawba defensive coordinator Bob Lancaster, who recruits the Charlotte schools, closed the deal with Hunter first. Then he got Hamilton.
“We talked about it,” Hamilton said. “Calvin wanted me to come here and roll with him and I loved the football vibe I got from Catawba.”
Both Hamilton, a defensive end/tight end and Hunter, a wide receiver/DB, made the Charlotte area all-star squads last season and were instrumental in Vance’s stunning 10-7 upset at nationally ranked Mallard Creek in the 4AA playoffs.
“Well, Vance was known more as a basketball school,” Hamilton said with a smile. “And I think Mallard Creek had already started getting ready for Butler.”
Hamilton (6-foot-3, 215) was originally projected as a tight end by Catawba, but he’s playing wide receiver now and may stay there.
He produced two huge plays in the UNC Pembroke victory, blocking a punt and leaping to snare a TD pass.
“He’s still learning the blocking schemes for our wide receivers, but he’s a very talented athlete,” Catawba coach Chip Hester said. “He’s a big, strong guy and we’ve got to find ways to get him more involved.”
DISAPPOINTMENT: Catawba got trampled by Carson-Newman’s ground game to the tune of 471 rushing yards and a 55-21 SAC setback on Saturday. It’s not often Catawba is out of a game at halftime, but the Eagles played flawlessly.
“They just played a lot faster than we did,” Hester said. “That quarterback (Brandon Haywood) was starting for the first time, and I think their record would be better if he’d playing all along. They also have the best defense we’ve seen from them in four years. We just didn’t have answers for their pass rush.”
Catawba players were disappointed as well.
“It was a bad feeling because we’re capable of playing so much better,” Hamilton said. “We had a lot of fans go up there and we feel like we let them down.”
NICE JOB: As fierce as Carson-Newman’s pass rush was, Hester said Catawba QB Jacob Charest played one of his better games.
He didn’t make a turnover, rushed for two scores and was 20-for-30 passing. One of the former Butler star’s touchdowns was a 51-yard dash.
“I think I had a 50-yarder in high school against Ardrey Kell the first year they were open, but this probably was my longest,” Charest said with a grin. “No one ever came to tackle me.”
STEADY: While Catawba didn’t name an offensive or defensive player of the week, Mario Washington repeated as the top special teams performer.
“He’s consistent handling his responsibilities and consistency is the thing we’re lacking as a team,” Hester said. “Whether it’s blocking or covering kicks, Mario is consistent.”
DEFENSE: Linebacker Lakeem Perry made 16 tackles for Catawba on Saturday, but the Indians couldn’t get their defense off the field. Carson-Newman was 10-for-14 converting third downs.
NEXT: Catawba is home against SAC leader Mars Hill on Saturday afternoon, so a chance for redemption isn’t far away.
Mars Hill QB Jon Richt is the reigning SAC Offensive Player of the Week, while Jonas Randolph is the SAC’s most dynamic ballcarrier.
“Their running back may be the premiere guy in all of Division II,” Hester said. “But we had our best offensive practice of the season on Monday, and we’re still showing signs of being a good football team.”