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Star photo by P.J. HarmerTwins Wade Hammond, left, and Drew Hammond have anchored Walton's offensive and defensive lines this season. Each battled through pre-game setbacks last Friday before playing in a 42-0 rout of Bolivar-Richburg.

WALTON _ Ticonderoga will be seeing double this morning.

And like Walton's other 12 football opponents this season, fraternal twins Drew and Wade Hammond have a lot to do with it.

"They are vicious, that's for sure," quarterback Pat O'Brien said of the Warriors' super-sized senior linemen. "Their size is overwhelming. I'm scared of them both, even though they're on my team. They are massive."

This morning's game is pretty big, too.

The Hammonds will take to the field for the last time as Walton football teammates at 10 a.m. today, when the Section Four champion Warriors (12-0) play Section Seven's Ticonderoga (10-2) for the Class D state championship at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.

Winning the state title would cap an already special season for the brothers, who start on Walton's offensive and defensive lines. This fall marked the first time the two played together on the same line since junior high as Drew has been on offense and Wade concentrated on defense in previous years.

"To imagine we get to win a state championship in our senior year," Wade said, "it's crazy to think about it."

Said Drew: "It would definitely cool."

Walton coach Jim Hoover said it has been tough to keep the Hammonds sidelined this season.

"They never want to come off the field," said Hoover, who is in his 32nd season as the Warriors' head coach. "Any time you try and give them a breather, they're upset. They want to be on the field all the time."

One of two sets of Walton brothers _ sophomore Bryant Mead and junior Chris make up the other _ the Hammonds are imposing. Drew stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 250 pounds, and Wade is 6-3 and 280. On offense, the two are separated by 5-7, 184-pound left guard Dominic Tomao as Drew starts at center and Wade is at left tackle. They are side-by-side on defense, however, at left end and left tackle, respectively.

"I don't have a clue what I'd be thinking," Walton fullback Richard Fletcher said of what it must be like to face the Hammonds. "Probably a lot of things would be running through my head, but the first would to be to run away."

That would seem to be the wise choice as both Hammonds are bruising hitters who know how to finish tackles.

"It's great to watch them hit people," senior right tackle Sean Knapp said. "It gets everyone else pumped up because it's so hard and so sudden and there's no escaping it."

Said fellow lineman Brad Hodges: "I feel bad for the people they're hitting sometimes because I know how it feels for them to get on you."

Two pre-game incidents last Friday illustrate just how tough the Hammonds are.

Wade said he was en route to school last Friday morning when his car suddenly fishtailed, hit a tree and flipped on County Route 23 in the Town of Walton. Although his car rolled after skimming the roof of another automobile, he said, it eventually landed right-side-up.

Wade said Walton fire chief and football team trainer Jim Jacob soon arrived at the scene.

"I asked him if I could play," Wade said with a smile. "He was like, Are you OK?' and I said I'm ready to go.'"

Following a precautionary stop at Delaware Valley Hospital, Wade arrived at school eight minutes before the team bus left for a state semifinal in Rochester. That night, he played offense and defense for the Warriors in their 42-0 state semifinal rout of Bolivar-Richburg.

Drew had his own problems before the semi, battling butterflies, a stomach bug and a greasy breakfast sandwich that simply didn't sit well. Drew said he vomited twice before the game, once during the first half and two more times at halftime but still managed to play center on offense.

"The team means so much to those guys," Hoover said. "They wanted to play and the main concern is they didn't want to let the team down. They just had to go out and gut it up."

Thus are the Hammonds, who always seem to put the team first and constantly push each other to do their best.

"Basically, we know each other and if we make a mistake, we know we can do better," Wade said. "We try and correct each other and sometimes that involves a little bit of slamming each other."

Make no mistake, though, there is no sibling rivalry here.

"There are moments where you have a good play, it means a little more to us," Drew said. "If I make a good tackle or he makes a really good tackle, it helps being brothers and it brings us together."

___

P.J. Harmer can be reached at pharmer@thedailystar.com or 607-432-1000, ext. 229.

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