Gaining Ground: Hayden hits 1,000 yard plateau in first four games of season
Joseph Elerson | News-Telegram Sports Writer

Sept. 17, 2005 - COMO - Another 300-yard performance and another six touchdown night for Como-Pickton senior running back Ray Hayden.

Hayden ran for 308 yards and six touchdowns on 16 carries in a 58-13 win over the Collinsville Pirates to wrap up the Eagles' predistrict season at 2-2. He also had a 78-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the contest.

"Ray is just a talented young man, and he has the god given ability to play football. He is continuing to work hard and it is showing this season," said CPHS coach Joe Ryzman.

Hayden now has 1,008 yards and 16 touchdowns in four games this season and is averaging 328 yards in two home games.

The Eagles saw the return of senior fullback Brian Hicks to the lineup after an ankle injury suffered in the first half of Zero Week, and Hicks returned with a vengeance.

Hicks had 13 carries for 94 yards and one touchdown on a 4-yard run straight through the Collinsville defense in the fourth quarter.

"It was good to have him back because he is not only a good player but a good team leader," the coach said. "He is one of those inspirational leaders along with Trent and Ray on our team, and he showed that he is not only a good leader but a good player for us."

In last week's loss to Harmony, quarterback Trent Vail suffered an injury to his ankle and attempted to work out on it this week, but the coaching staff decided to let the injury heal and pulled Vail, as Garold Pierce went under center and the return brought back many memories for Pierce.

"It brought back a lot of memories of playing JV, but it was a lot faster. Overall, my teammates had my back and told me not to worry about anything," Pierce said. "I had fun and enjoyed the game, and wherever coach Ryzman wants me to play I will be there."

The Eagles held a 32-7 lead after the first half as Hayden scored on runs of 12, 73, 34, 37 and the 78-yard kickoff return, but Ryzman said he still wasn't happy with the performance of his team.

"We had a sloppy first half and in my halftime talk with the kids, I told them that we needed to play better in the second half in order to be better prepared for district play and that is what we did," he said. "We made some adjustments and the kids made up their mind that they would come out and play a better second half, technique-wise and penalty-wise."

The Pirates relied on the running of junior quarterback Matt Linn throughout the contest as he finished with 78 yards on 18 carries and 8-of-16 passing for 144 yards and two touchdowns to Matt Kays and Trent Moody. Linn also had one PAT in the game.

Ryzman praised the play of the entire secondary as Juan Bautista and Pierce had interceptions with Bautista's coming in the first half and Pierce recorded his on Collinsville's last offensive series deep in CP territory.  

"The secondary played well tonight as an overall secondary, and from what I have seen we have got some things to work on, but we are getting better," the coach said.

Pierce said the Eagles knew watching the film what Collinsville would show them on offense and his improvement on defense has come at just the right time.

"I thought I improved pretty good, and we knew they would be throwing some inside routes and coach (Rich) Lawrence told me to get a pick and fortunately I was able to get one in the game," he said.

Offensively, Pierce completed 2-of-7 passes for 15 yards and one interception against Collinsville, and Ryzman said he did a good job while replacing Vail at quarterback.

"Garold has had minimum reps at quarterback throughout the year and for him to step up and fill Trent's shoes while he was out with the injury, I thought he did a very good job," Ryzman said.

On the Eagles' final scoring drive of the game, Hicks received the handoff from Pierce, but was stripped of the ball after a 2-yard carry, but lineman Alex Mowat was in the right place at the right time.

Mowat scooped up the loose ball and went 20 yards to paydirt for a 58-13 lead with 3:35 remaining in the contest.

With the games starting to count next week as District 17-2A begins, Ryzman said the team needs to eliminate mistakes and make the most out of their practices.

"We need to get better this week and we have got to come back next week and have great practices and keep eliminating mistakes," the coach said.

Pierce agreed with coach on what needs to be done and said this district will be competitive this year.

"District is going to be tough and with the way that we practice, we practice very hard and I think we will do really well in district," Pierce said.

Correction: In last week's 52-10 loss to the Harmony Eagles, Hayden had 21 carries for 138 yards and one touchdown, not 13 carries as reported in the story.

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