Hazen notches win streak just in time for playoffs

November 1, 2012

It’s been an up-and-down year for the Hazen High School football team, but the Highlanders seem to be hitting their stride just in time for the playoffs.

The team has won three of its last four games, ending the regular season with a 5-4 record, after a slow, 2-3 start to the season.

By Rob Nichols
Hazen High School quarterback Tony Nipert gets solid protection from his offensive line as he drops back to pass against Evergreen on Oct. 4 at Renton Memorial Stadium. The Highlanders beat Evergreen, 48-6.

“The whole season has been kind of a roller coaster,” Hazen coach Drew Oliver said. “There’s really only been one game that we haven’t been close. I think that the second half of the season has been more of what we wanted.”

The Highlanders began the second half of the season Oct. 4 with a 48-6 win against Evergreen. The team flourished behind a strong performance from Jordan Abdullah, who rushed for two touchdowns and more than 100 yards.

Hazen then fell to Bainbridge, 21-20, on Oct. 11. The Highlanders led Bainbridge 14-7 at halftime, but couldn’t hang on against the nonconference foe.

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Liberty remains a team while facing adversity

November 1, 2012

The Liberty High School football team went into the season believing in the acronym TEAM — together everyone achieves more.

It was the motto that drove and motivated a young, thin-in-numbers Patriots squad.

By Greg Farrar
Tynan Gilmore, Liberty High School senior quarterback, drags Mount Si senior defensive back Jimbo Davis into the end zone with his fourth-quarter punt return, as Patriot coaches on the sideline jump and raise their hands to celebrate his touchdown effort.

And even though the team finished its season with a 3-6 record and won’t be going to the playoffs, the acronym was truer than the team could have ever imagined.

“They picked as their motto, the acronym TEAM, and it’s really a cliché because everyone uses it,” Liberty coach Steve Valach said. “But the team really stood behind it and that’s who we are. We are going to be a team.”

The 2012 Patriots faced adversity throughout the season. Liberty was plagued by injuries, a tough predicament for an already small squad. While it didn’t translate to wins for the Patriots, it did bring the team together, Valach said.

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Injuries plague the Patriots after stumbling out of the gate

October 4, 2012

By Scott Coburn
Robbie Thomas, Liberty High School senior quarterback, drops back to pass during Liberty’s 25-22 victory over Hazen High School on Sept. 7.

After a rocky 2-3 start to the season, Liberty High School coach Steve Valach said his team needs to focus on taking care of the football and staying healthy, with just four games left in the regular season.

The Patriots opened their season with a 41-14 loss to a talented Eastside Catholic team.

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Highlanders at a ‘crossroads’ after disappointing start

October 4, 2012

After a strong 2011 season, expectations were high for the Hazen High School football team, which is why the team’s 2-3 start is a bit frustrating for Hazen coach Drew Oliver.

“We’re kind of at a crossroads here in the season and we’ll see how we respond in the second half,” he said.

In its season opener, Hazen had a come-from-behind victory, defeating Franklin Pierce, 37-28, behind a strong performance from running back Mason Jacobs, who scored three touchdowns.

By Scott Coburn
Kyle Nelson, Hazen High School senior wide receiver, runs for a 64-yard touchdown Sept. 21 during the fourth quarter against Lindbergh.

Hazen started out slow for the second straight week, but picked it up in the fourth quarter, when they took on Liberty. This time, it wasn’t enough to overcome the slow start and the Highlanders lost, 25-22.

Oliver said he was happy with Hazen’s effort, but added that his team was disappointed by the close loss.

“I’m very proud of my team as far as effort is concerned,” he said. “I’m not happy on the scoreboard and the team isn’t either. I told those guys that we are past moral victories in our program, and three years ago that would have been a moral victory for us.”

But on Sept. 14, the Highlanders bounced back with a 50-21 victory against Highline in its Seamount Conference opener.

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Liberty narrowly defeats Hazen in football showdown

September 10, 2012

By Scott Coburn
The captains for Liberty and Hazen meet at midfield for the opening coin toss in the Sept. 7 contest between the two Renton schools. Liberty defeated Hazen 25-22.

NEW — 5:55 p.m. Sept. 10, 2012

It was the battle of Renton last Friday as the Liberty Patriots hosted the Hazen Highlanders in a high school football contest. Read more

It’s ‘team first’ as Patriots look to bounce back from 2011

September 6, 2012

By Greg Farrar
The Liberty High School football team and their coach Steve Valach (center) gather in an all-for-one, one-for-all huddle before their Aug. 22 practice drills. See a slideshow photos at www.newcastle-news.com.

After a disappointing 2011 season, the Liberty High School Patriots are looking toward each other to get the team back to its winning ways in 2012.

TEAM, which stands for together everyone achieves more, is the motto motivating a young Patriots squad in coach Steve Valach’s 14th year at the helm.

“There’s good energy with this group,” Valach said. “I like their chemistry and they’re working hard. They are really into that idea of playing together and no one is bigger than the team.”

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Highlanders hope their next step is a state title

September 6, 2012

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.

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Skyhawks sports camps available for kids

May 31, 2012

Newcastle will facilitate Skyhawks sports camps this summer for children ages 4-12.

From July 2 to Aug. 17, beginner to intermediate players can develop their skills in soccer, basketball, golf, tennis, flag football or cheerleading.

Two to three sports are incorporated into the multisport program and for the mini-hawk program, youths learn the essentials of baseball, basketball and soccer.

Camps will be held at Lake Boren Park or other local parks and facilities. Registrations are offered on a first-come, first-served basis until the program is full, up to seven days before the start date.

Skyhawks is a nationwide organization established in 1970. Its goal is to teach life skills through sports.

Get additional information or register for upcoming camps at www.skyhawks.com. Each participant enrolled receives a T-shirt and merit award.

Humble and respected, Liberty’s Josh Gordon is a quiet success

January 6, 2012

Deep-seated sports passion has family ties for football, track star

Josh Gordon, a standout athlete in track and football, Eagle Scout, honor student and brother, identified himself as a competitor at a young age.

Gordon and his father were attending a University of Washington football game and Josh pointed to the field.

Josh Gordon

“Someday, I’m going to make a touchdown there,” Josh told his father.

Now 17 and attending his final year at Liberty High School, Gordon is working hard to make good on that promise. He’s the leading receiver for King County in 3A football, and if football doesn’t work out, Gordon will look to track and field. As a junior, he won first place at state in the long jump and 1,600 relay, adding to the second-place medal he earned as a sophomore.

One would think his success might change his personality, or make him susceptible to the culture of boastful talking.

Not Gordon.

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Hazen earns first state playoff berth since 1993

December 1, 2011

Highlanders beat Franklin, 36-15, before falling to Capital, 47-0

Eric Jacobs, Hazen High School senior running back, shakes off Trevon Harris, of Franklin, during the fourth quarter on a 30-yard touchdown run, his third of the game. By Greg Farrar

1993. That was the last time the Hazen High School Highlanders earned a spot in the state football playoff run.

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