Hammond has a secret offensive weapon this season. But he's a secret no more.
Fullback Ron Gamble, all 6-foot-3, 230 pounds of him, served notice that the Bears won't be a one-man (Tim Spruill) offense.
Gamble rushed nine times for 64 yards and two touchdowns, and led the Bears to a 27-6 victory over Dundalk in the opener for both teams yesterday at Hammond.
"No. 44 [Gamble] had a nice game offensively and defensively," Dundalk coach Ron Shultz said.
Gamble scored Hammond's second and fourth touchdowns on 3-yard runs, and his 24-yard run set up the final score with 5:33 left in the game.
"Ron came to us from Oakland Mills two years ago as a tall, scrawny kid who wanted to be our fullback, and he has worked hard to make himself one of the better players in the county," Hammond coach Joe Russo said.
"He's increased his speed from last year in the 40 from 4.9 to 4.7, and he gained 20 pounds. Today he carried us. He was our Player of the Game."
Hammond ran the ball much more than expected against Dundalk. One reason is that quarterback Tim Spruill suffered a slight right shoulder separation during practice Thursday. It was Gamble who hit him and caused it.
Spruill, who threw for 1,000 yards last season, completed three of 12 passes for 60 yards and one touchdown, and had one pass intercepted.
"We should have had three interceptions in the first five minutes," Shultz said. "And two of them should have gone for touchdowns. You can't make mistakes like that against a guy like Spruill who can do it all. They [Hammond] didn't drop their interception chances."
Hammond intercepted five passes with Jason Speigle grabbing two of them. Spruill, Mike Bright and Mike Amaral had the others.
Hammond also recovered three Dundalk fumbles. William Oliver recovered two, the first one in the end zone for a touchdown. His second recovery at Dundalk's 27 led to Hammond's third touchdown on a 25-yard pass from Spruill to Joe Leise.
Dundalk's only score came with one second left in the first half on a desperation pass from quarterback Tim Miller to Kevin Underwood good for 70 yards. Two Hammond players fought for the interception allowing Underwood to make the catch.
"We usually throw 70 percent, but today I think we ran 70 percent," Russo said. "Our offense was out of sync. Dundalk had some tough kids who slugged it out until the end."
Hammond was expecting to see Dundalk run a lot of option plays to Brawley Evans, but instead saw mainly an air attack.
L "When we scouted them they hardly threw at all," Russo said.
Dundalk threw 17 times and completed five for 82 yards.
"We are going to be a pass-oriented offense this season and we knew Hammond had a good defensive secondary so we tried to establish the run at first," Shultz said.
But the Eagles rushed for minus 13 yards in the first half and had to play catch-up after falling behind, 20-0.