In the aftermath of Hillcrest High’s second football playoff victory ever, on a cold, damp, rainy night at Chandler Stadium, Rams coach Greg Porter could see only a bright future.
“I’m excited for the community,” Porter said after Hillcrest’s 41-14 win against Rock Hill in the first round of the Class AAAA Division I playoffs. “They support us. They come out to the games.
“It is my vision and desire that this become a football town for Hillcrest, and when we play on Friday nights, it’s my vision that the whole community will shut down. Everybody will want to come see these kids play. And tonight it’s closer and closer to that vision and that dream that I have.”
Ki-Jana Madden helped the Rams (11-1) steer closer to that end, scoring five touchdowns against the Bearcats. Isaiah Lewis scored the sixth on a 79-yard pass from Collin Sneed.
Hillcrest ended a 21-game postseason losing streak. The Rams won their first playoff game, on the road when in Class AAA in 1978, and had never won one at home.
“It means a lot to the football team, the student body and the community,” Madden said. “I’m proud of my team and what my coaches have done with us.”
Madden scored on pass receptions of 6 and 12 yards from Sneed, on a 1-yard run, on an 81-yard kickoff return and on a 66-yard punt return.
“And he’s a humble kid,” Porter said. “That’s what we love about him as well. He doesn’t ask about the ball. He doesn’t catch an attitude when he doesn’t have the ball. He just makes plays when the opportunity comes his way.”
Madden has 29 touchdowns this season, and Sneed has 26 touchdown passes.
The Rams also forced five turnovers, including an interception by Landon Sayegh that led to Madden’s short touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Hillcrest — which set school records with its 11th victory and ninth consecutive — will play in the state quarterfinals for the first time Friday when it hosts Sumter.
“That’s a good team over there. They played hard,” Porter said of the Bearcats. “But tonight our kids were determined. I think they like making history.”