The question "How many?" doesn't matter to those associated with the high school football program at East Hamilton. Only the question "How?"
How the Hurricanes, who still haven't reached double figures in victories in their three-year history, won their first District 6-AA championship this year was winning at the right times. Another of those was Friday when they beat Howard 42-6 at East Hamilton on senior night.
It was the last regular-season home game for East Hamilton (6-4, 6-1), but the Hurricanes hope not the last home game this season. They know they'll be part of the Class 4A state playoffs, but Tyner had to travel after recently winning a district championship.
"It's exciting," East Hamilton coach Ted Gatewood said. "I'm so happy for the kids. I know the work and everything they've put into it. I'm so proud they were able to accomplish something. They see what you put into it is rewarding. You get punched in the mouth long enough, you learn to do something about it."
The punches to the mouth are figurative referrences to the program's 1-9 and 2-8 previous seasons, which junior lineman Francisco Rodriguez was part of. This season started 0-2.
"I was a little worried, I'm not going to lie, about those first two years," Rodriguez said. "We kept working harder and harder every game. We knew we were going to reach our goal. We're a lot more physical than we were at the beginning of the year. We finally started believing in ourselves and what we could accomplish. We feel the only ones who can stop us is ourselves."
The person with the easiest job for the Hurricanes was quarterback Hunter Moore, who didn't throw a pass all night. Considering their reputation, and the fact they were up 14-0 by the 6:19 mark of the first quarter, it wasn't that big of a big surprise.
East Hamilton's blocking has been at such a high level lately, it doesn't appear the Hurricanes miss leading rusher Logan Jackson, who has been out recently with an ankle sprain, or fellow junior Chas Holsey, who broke his foot and won't return. Another of their tailbacks, sophomore Hunter Parker, sprained an ankle on defense early against Howard (0-10, 0-7) and did not play again.
Junior Lamond Greer carried the bulk of the rushing load Friday, including all eight carries on a 68-yard touchdown drive. He ended up with 189 yards on 25 carries.
Freshman Matt Milita gained 107 yards on nine carries and scored his first two varsity touchdowns. Fullback Dallas Hammond's first two carries were touchdowns of 14 and 25 yards on quick openers.
"That's what we do," Gatewood said. "We're going to run the ball. Our offensive line is doing a great job."
East Hamilton had six tackles for loss and two sacks against a depleted Howard team, and the Hustlin' Tigers also lost yardage on two plays when they recovered their own fumbles and had a punt snap into the end zone the Hurricanes' Bonza Monroe recovered.
Howard's touchdown was a 30-yard hook-up from Tevan Jackson to JerMichael Hardy shortly before halftime.
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.