It didn't take long to figure out that the Ballenger twins at Hillcrest could play ball it just took us a little while to figure out which one was which. Either way both brothers were productive and we sat down with them recently as they helped Hillcrest win the AAAA Division 1 state championship knocking off last season's champions Dutch Fork in the state title game.
Hillcrest caught our eye during the regular season and seeing their team twice in person we told colleagues and friends that the Rams were my darkhorse to win the AAAA Division 1 state championship. Watching them shock the rest of the world so to say provided some satisfaction and one of their key players was 2016 running back Jacquavis "JD" Ballenger. We talked with JD this week as he's "UP NEXT" with SCPrepNation.com.
Although they aren't tall in stature the Ballenger twins (5'7) proved more than good enough to help carry the Rams to that title. He talked about his most memorable game of the season en route to the title.
"My best game was against Greenwood. I rushed for more than 120 yards and touchdowns. This game was the most memorable one for me because on one of my runs I was stuck in the backfield at first but I cut back just a little broke a tackle and was gone."
For the season Ballengers had 957 rushing yards and scored 26 touchdowns for the Rams.
The 5'7 175 pound Ballenger twin says they've just started to send out their transcripts to some schools and are hoping to see their recruitment pick up before too long.
"We sent our transcripts and film out to Bucknell and Lehigh. Wingate also said that they will be back in the spring."
Jacquavis informed us that right now he'd love to hear from any schools that would like to recruit he and his twin brother but there are some specific ones that he likes early on.
"I'd like to hear from SC State, Georgia State, Old Dominion, Western Carolina, and Mercer."
"We don't have any junior days lined up yet but I know we're gonna do the Shrine Bowl combine and also plan on going to the Wingate, Old Dominion, and Charlotte camps."
Right now Ballenger says his "quickness and power" are the biggest strengths of his game currently. He also talked about some areas he wants to keep working on to improve it.
"I want to improve my overall speed."
So what was it like for Ballenger and company to win the AAAA Division 1 state championship and what will it take for the Rams to repeat next year?
"It felt good winning state especially with everyone expecting Dutch Fork to beat us by so much. I was happy that I was able to contribute to the team on this amazing year. For us to repeat everyone will have to work 10 times harder because every game our opponent will give us their all and we're just gonna have to be ready every game."
We also asked Ballenger which team he faced this season was the toughest one he faced? His answer may surprise some people.
"The toughest team was Fort Dorchester. They had the best combination of speed and power that we saw this year.
Right now all of the schools who've inquired have inquired about both twins.
Looking ahead to his senior season next year Jacquavis shared with us what his goals are.
"I want to get close to 1,000+ yards as possible but I wanna lead my team to another state championship and all my stats will come from contributing to the team."
Ballenger was named an all-state selection and he also performs at a high level in the classroom reporting a 3.8 GPA and plans on taking the SAT later on in March.
Check out some of Ballenger's testing numbers below and find out how to follow us on Twitter as we'll continue to bring you updates with Jacquavis, his brother Quintavis, and other top high school prospects here in the state of South Carolina.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS...JACQUAVIS BALLENGER
Bench press: 320 pounds
Squat: 500 pounds
Power clean: 275 pounds
Fastest 40 time: 4.6 seconds
Pro shuttle: 4.4 seconds