By Charles Prince
The North Jefferson News
Last Friday was a first for the Hayden Wildcat football team. For a change, everything went right for them, instead of against them, as they crushed Curry, 40-8 to record their first win of the 2007 season and snap a 17-game losing streak.
“We played well all around for the first time this year,” Hayden head coach Shane Howard said. “We played with the intensity we needed to for four quarters. We moved the ball and played well on defense. We didn't allow any big plays for the first time this year.”
The Wildcat defense contributed a touchdown and set up the offense with good field position on numerous occasions, as they picked off four Curry pass attempts.
The Wildcats are hoping the momentum from that win carries over to this week's game with bitter rival Corner.
“We told the kids to enjoy the victory, because they worked so hard for it and things finally paid off, but we also told them we've get back to work and get ready for Corner,” Howard said.
Last season, Corner routed the Wildcats, but the year before, the Wildcats came away with a big win. However, coach Howard thinks this year's game will revert to the pattern of the first two Hayden-Corner games he coached in.
“My first two years here as head coach, both games with Corner were decided in overtime,” he said. “I'm looking for one of those type of games this week. I'm expecting a tough game that will probably be decided late.”
Howard said the Jackets have the size advantage on his club, as many teams have had this season. He said his team would have to play intense, smart football to win, not only playing hard for four quarters, but also protecting the ball and avoiding penalties.
“They've got some skill guys, who scare us, because of their quickness,” Howard said. “This is a good Corner football team and we're expecting an intense battle, because I know coach (Jeff) Smith will have his team ready.”
Corner Yellow Jackets
Yellow Jackets head coach Jeff Smith has coached on both sides of the Corner-Hayden rivalry and he knows what to expect when the two club meet Friday night.
“This is always a big game,” Smith said. “I was a assistant at Hayden and now being at Corner, I know how important this game is. It’s one of the most intense high school rivalries you’ll find.”
Smith said the Yellow Jackets are the bigger club, but Hayden is the quicker team, so the outcome will boil down to which club makes mistakes.
“I see this as two evenly matched teams,” Smith said. “We need to win at the line of scrimmage and avoid giving them any big plays. Neither club has had the season they wanted to have, but this is a chance for the club that plays error-free football to end their year on a positive note.”
Smith will be coaching against Shane Howard for the first time as a head coach. Last season, while he was Corner’s offensive coordinator, he coached against Howard for the first time.
“Shane and I have been friends for a long time,” Smith said. “We used to talk about when we’d coach against each other as head coaches, back when we were assistants. That just adds to this game.”
By Charles Prince