Highlanders hope their next step is a state title

September 6, 2012

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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Create a legacy.

That’s the message driving the Hazen High School Highlanders in coach Drew Oliver’s fourth year at the helm.

With a group of players that have been in his system from the beginning, Oliver is looking to his seniors to leave a lasting legacy.

By Scott E. Coburn
Hazen High School linemen hit the tackling dummies during a Highlanders’ football practice. See a slideshow photos at www.newcastle-news.com.

“Our team motto this year is to create a legacy,” he said. “So we’re talking about how they leave this place and how they leave it for the young guys. These guys are my best representation of knowing everything that Hazen football stands for.”

Under Oliver’s leadership, the football team has improved every year, culminating with an appearance in the state tournament last year. It was the team’s first state appearance since 1993, but it was a short-lived run as the Highlanders were bounced from the tournament after a 47-0 loss to Capital.

Now, the team’s senior leaders hope to take the next step and ride the program’s positive momentum to a trip to the Tacoma Dome for the 3A state championship.

“I think first in state, that’s the biggest goal, but in reality we just want to be a better team and better people,” Cody Moorhead, a senior defensive end, said. “Basically we’re just trying to fight every game, work hard every game, just play our hearts out and that’s all you can really ask for.”

 

Expecting good things

The Highlanders had a productive summer with record attendance at their offseason conditioning program. The team also attended a summer football camp at the University of Puget Sound, which attracted top teams from around the state.

“At UPS, we saw some big competition,” Moorhead said. “We saw big schools like Kentwood and Kentridge, we saw a lot of KingCo teams and what we did is we just went out and competed. I think that gave us a lot of good game experience for the younger guys and just helped us know where we’re at for the season.”

Oliver expects a lot from his seniors this year, including linebacker/offensive guard Drew Kelly, safety/running back Kyle Nelson and Moorhead, one of the state’s top players.

“This is a good marking point for us because this is my fourth year, and this is a group of seniors that have been here with me since the beginning,” Oliver said. “I’m expecting good things from our guys. I’m expecting them to lead us the right way.”

 

Energy and enthusiasm

One of the team’s goals is to be more productive in the first half. In Hazen’s first five games last year, the Highlanders scored 78 of their 113 overall points in the second half.

“Last year, we played more of the opponent’s game until the second half, and this year we’re planning on turning it on in the first half and playing a full game,” Kelly said.

Oliver said that 85 players turned out for the football team this year, the most during his tenure. The numbers just add to the buzz and excitement surrounding the Hazen football team.

“There is some really, really high energy in the program,” Nelson said. “Coach said that the energy at our first three practices has already been higher than most of our practices all last year. That energy and enthusiasm throughout the year is going to be huge.”

With the team’s continual progress, expectations are high for the year. Oliver said the team is just looking to take the next step.

“We’re looking for the next step and the next step is to go further than we’ve gone,” Oliver said. “Every year, we want to keep improving and keep building.”

 

Cody Moorhead focuses on the season

The Hazen Highlanders are expecting a lot from their star defensive end, Cody Moorhead, this season.
Moorhead earned several honors as a junior last year. He was named the Seamount Conference’s defensive interior player of the year and garnered first-team defense and second-team offense honors.
Moorhead’s success landed him football scholarship offers from Eastern Washington University, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. and University of Wyoming and interest from other schools. The defensive end is honored by the attention, but intends to put all of his focus on his senior season at Hazen.
“It’s been great but I’m not going to let it affect my teammates,” he said of the recruiting process. “I’m going to stay focused on my team first and finish out my senior season. I’m really humble about it that I’m good enough to play at the next level, but I just want to make sure that I’m still coaching the younger guys and helping my teammates out.”

 

2012 Hazen football schedule

Unless noted, all games are at 7 p.m. Home games are at Renton Memorial Field.

  • Sept. 7 at Liberty
  •  Sept. 14 at Highline, 8 p.m.
  •  Sept. 21 Lindbergh
  • (Homecoming)
  •  Sept. 27 at Kennedy
  •  Oct. 4 Evergreen
  • Oct. 11 Bainbridge
  • Oct. 19 at Foster
  • Oct. 26 Renton
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