Hazen playoff hopes dashed

November 7, 2014

By Anthony Nipert

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By Marcus Mason Hazen running back Marquise Lee (3) bursts through for a big gain in the Highlanders’ Oct. 24 loss to Lindbergh, 56-12. The loss eliminated Hazen’s playoff hopes.

By Marcus Mason
Hazen running back Marquise Lee (3) bursts through for a big gain in the Highlanders’ Oct. 24 loss to Lindbergh, 56-12. The loss eliminated Hazen’s playoff hopes.

The Hazen High School Highlanders went on the road Oct. 24 to play Lindbergh on the Eagles’ homecoming night.

The Eagles came ready to play, forcing a 3-and-out on Hazen’s opening drive. When the Hazen defense took the field, Lindbergh marched down the field led by a strong running game from D’Angelo Faust, who would finish with more than 100 yards on the ground.

The theme continued as Lindbergh’s defensive rush was too much for the Highlanders’ offense and a plethora of missed tackles allowed the Eagles’ running backs to run rampant. D’Shaun Sims also rumbled in for a touchdown near the end of the first quarter to give the Eagles a 14-0 lead.

At the start of the second quarter, Hazen lost a fumble to the Eagles. Soon after, Hazen found cause for excitement as senior Marquise Lee stripped the ball out of a Lindbergh runner’s hands, giving Hazen the ball back.

On Hazen’s next drive, quarterback Nolan Hoover threw a ball deep down the right sideline for a Lindbergh interception. After the momentary back and forth of turnovers, the Eagles found their rhythm again with long runs by Faust and Devon Jackson to increase the Eagles’ lead to 28-0.

A touchdown pass to Jackson from quarterback Anthony Hill extended the lead to 36-0, as Lindbergh scored on a 2-point conversion to finish the drive. Right before the half, in an attempt to put points on the board, Hoover was intercepted on a crossing route by Eagles’ linebacker Sims, giving Lindbergh a lead of 43-0 heading into the half.

In the second half, because of the mercy rule, the clock continued to run due to the score of the game. At the start of the second half, the Eagles picked up where they left off, with Faust and Jackson each scoring on running plays, putting the score at 56-0.

Hazen found their offensive success late in the game on their final two drives. In the fourth quarter, Lee, a running back and defensive back, broke several tackles on his way to a long, 64-yard touchdown run.

On Hazen’s following drive, the Highlanders’ passing game displayed success, as Hoover connected with fellow senior Eli Azcueta on two deep passes, including a touchdown pass.

The clock wound down and the final score stood at 56-12, with the Lindbergh Eagles overcoming the Hazen Highlanders in a rivalry-fueled game.

On offense, Hazen was unable to mount sustained drives, often caused by a lack of protection up front from the offensive line. Hazen also turned the ball over four times in the game — twice on the ground and twice through the air.

On defense, the Highlanders failed to wrap up on their tackles. Despite being in position to make tackles throughout the game, the Lindbergh running game was able to break them consistently, leading to a dominant running performance.

The Highlanders’ finished the year at 3-6. The loss eliminated them from playoff contention.

When asked what Hazen’s biggest obstacle was this year, first-year head coach David Kilpatrick-White said, “One of the toughest things this year has been getting players to commit to the program.”

Kilpatrick-White mentioned that in the past three weeks, six players have been dismissed from the team for various reasons.

Bringing a spread offense to a high school that spent the past five years running a schematically opposite Wing-T, Kilpatrick-White also mentioned that it has been tough making such a drastic change.

“When you go from a one-read offense like the Wing-T, where if the first receiver isn’t open then you tuck and run, to a spread offense where you have to make multiple reads, it’s going to be difficult,” he said. “But Nolan has been getting better every week.  I just wish I could have started with him a little sooner.”

Looking forward, the Highlanders will spend the offseason looking to build the commitment that Kilpatrick-White knows will be essential in making progress in the program.

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