Hazen hopes to pave its own road to post season

October 9, 2011

By Christina Lords

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/ Double L Photography Hazen’s Eric Jacobs (7), and Cody Moorhead shake hands Sept. 3 with captains for the Blaine High School Borderites before the coin toss at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. By Lisa Lombardo

In coach Drew Oliver’s eyes, there’s only one thing standing in the way of the Hazen High School football team and post-season success.

Itself.

“We need to execute for four quarters — that has to be the biggest area of growth for us,” he said. “We need to clean up our mistakes, and we need to be able to play a full football game without shooting ourselves in the foot.”

Hazen (3-2, 1-2) won both of its nonconference games to start out the season, beating the Blaine Borderites, 35-32, on Sept. 3 and the Cedarcrest Redwolves, 17-14, on Sept. 9.

It was shut out at its Sept. 17 conference opener against Kennedy Catholic High School, 0-28, and dropped its Sept. 23 game against Lindbergh High School, 22-20.

In the five games Hazen has played, the Highlanders have scored 78 of their 113 overall points in the season in the second half. Oliver said the Highlanders must learn to be more productive in the first half to avoid a scramble to catch up later in the game.

“In the wins we’ve had, the scores have been very close,” he said. “We’ve done well as far as battling to the end and making up for mistakes.”

The Highlanders rallied after the two losses, picking up a 41-19 dominating conference win against Evergreen on Sept. 30, which included a 70-yard interception return from junior co-captain Cody Moorehead.

The team faces additional challenges, as starting quarterback Tony Nipert, a junior, will remain on the injured list for six to eight weeks with a broken foot. Nipert was injured late in the game during the Highlanders’ third contest of the season against Kennedy.

Senior Cody Taylor and junior Kyle Nelson will split time in the offensive leadership role in Nipert’s absence.

“To get into the same rhythm as before, to establish that with a new signal caller is going to take some time,” Oliver said.

Taylor, who was honored with The Seattle Times 3A Athlete of the Week award for the week of Sept. 3, scored three touchdowns and a two-point conversion in the victory over Blaine. He had 218 all-purpose yards (117 rushing, 94 receiving and seven on returns) on 15 touches, and also intercepted a pass in the game.

Nelson, who also plays defensive back, recorded 20 solo and 28 assisted tackles in his first four games.

Oliver credited Hazen’s defensive line for its strength and determination — something it will continue to depend upon in future conference games.

Nelson, who also plays defensive back, recorded 20 solo tackles in his first four games.

“We still have a good shot of controlling our own destiny going forward,” Oliver said. “We just need to play our own game.”

 

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