Hazen sets sights on clearing stubborn post-season hurdle

September 2, 2011

By Christina Lords

Senior leaders ready to mentor the team’s large underclass

Marten Hiemstra (right), Hazen High School senior center, snaps the ball to junior quarterback Tony Nipert as the offense runs a play from scrimmage during practice Aug. 17. By Scott E. Coburn

The Hazen High School Highlanders recognize they have one major hurdle to clear this year — a post-season win.

After the team had successfully gone on to 7-4 and 7-3 seasons under coach Drew Oliver’s leadership, each of those seasons abruptly ended after Hazen was defeated in the first round of the playoffs.

“The way we do that is it increase our expectations with the kids,” he said. “They’re believing more in themselves. That’s a big part of it … instilling that they’re capable of doing it.”

As Oliver returns for his third season at the helm, Hazen has an added challenge of freshmen and sophomores making up more than half of this year’s varsity and junior varsity roster.

With fewer than 10 returning seniors, the team will rely on senior leaders and a strong junior class for a successful season in the classroom, on the practice field and on game day, Oliver said.

“Naturally, there could be some competition there where someone could say, ‘Hey, I don’t want this guy to take my spot,’” he said. “There’s none of that here. They’re a good family, a good team. They work to get everybody better.”

Providing leadership in the locker room and on the field is a challenge seniors on the team say they’re ready for.

“Last year, we got to the first round of the playoffs, and we played hard but just couldn’t get the game,” said Daymontray Brown, senior fullback. “This year, we’re trying to get farther than that — real farther than that.”

Senior running and defensive back Cody Taylor said the team must commit to strong execution every play and maintain speed for their run offense for a winning season that will take them further into the playoffs.

“Defensively, we know we need to be shutting down the other team, whoever it is,” said Eric Jacobs senior linebacker, noting the team’s strength as a run defense. “If they come out running, we have to … annihilate.”

Junior quarterback Tony Nipert was able to build up experience in the starting position for Hazen’s junior varsity team last year and the team will look to him to effectively run the offense this year, Oliver said.

The team will also rely heavily on the talent and athleticism of tight end and defensive end Cody Moorhead, a junior, who was selected first team, all league in 2010, Oliver said.

Oliver said one new change for the team this year will be the junior varsity and varsity teams practicing together.

The change will lead to younger players being able to learn from and practice with more experienced players, increase the players’ familiarities with coaches and their expectations, and allow for a more streamlined approach to coaching styles, Oliver said.

The team had a strong summer conditioning and weightlifting program this year, he said, with more students participating in the team’s Summer Soldiers program than ever.

The Highlanders face off against the Blaine Borderites for their first game at 9:30 a.m. Sept. 3 at Century Link Field in Seattle.

Hazen 2011 football schedule

Sept. 3 game at 9 a.m.

All other games at 7 p.m.

Date Opponent

Sept. 3 Blaine

Sept. 9 Cedarcrest Sept. 17

Kennedy Sept. 23 at Lindbergh

Sept. 30 at Evergreen

Oct. 6 at Highline Oct. 13

Foster Oct. 21

Bye

Oct. 28 Renton

Nov. 4 Playoffs

 

 

Bookmark and Share

Comments

Got something to say?

Before you comment, please note:

  • These comments are moderated.
  • Comments should be relevant to the topic at hand and contribute to its discussion.
  • Personal attacks and/or excessive profanity will not be tolerated and such comments will not be approved.
  • This is not your personal chat room or forum, so please stay on topic.