Excessive College Soccer: No Days Off For Hayes In The Trenches With Hornets – Salisbury Put up
Posted by Mike London
SALISBURY – Game No. 10 is Friday. Despite COVID, the Salisbury Hornets (7-2) played almost a normal football season.
It was 35 degrees with cruel winds on April 1st when the hornets lambasted Ledford, but it’s Margaritaville, a sweaty 84 degrees, as concentrated hornets intensely prepared for the upcoming storm on Wednesday. Next up is the regional final, a road rematch with North Davidson, a rival the Hornets love to hate.
North Davidson (8-1) jumped hard on the Hornets and then stopped on 21-14 when the giants clashed at Ludwig Stadium on March 19.
It’s a fact that Salisbury has attacked both sides of the ball for the past 2.5 quarters, but all that really mattered was the bottom line.
“One more chance to beat them,” said Kevin Hayes, Salisbury senior defensive end. “Last chance.”
“We’re 0v4 against North Davidson,” added SHS head coach Brian Hinson, inspired by the young baseball season. “Maybe we can go 1 against 5. That’s an eyelash .200. “
Some of the hornets are household names. Maybe one day on Sunday we can watch outside linebacker Jalon Walker. His recruiting saga, capped by an engagement in Georgia, made national news. Quarterback Vance Honeycutt has size and speed and an unlimited baseball future. Center-back Zae Clay made himself a legend in 2019 with three state championship game bags against Shelby. Central Carolina Conference linebackers may one day tell their grandchildren how they were run over by Salisbury defender JyMikaah Wells, a one-man buffalo rush.
But it takes a lot of people doing their job to get to that point. Hayes is one of the foot soldiers who does the dirty work in the trenches. He is wild but not famous. He may only hear his name three or four times on the average night on the PA, but North Davidson knows who # 99 is, just as Burns and Maiden know now. He’s the last name on the Hornets’ list with this ’99 jersey, but he’s one of the first to consider when planning for Salisbury.
“When you have a 260 pound defensive end, it can make a team think if they really want to get them on their side,” said Hinson.
Hayes is a formidable obstacle. He started at 260 pounds this season, though he’s melted to a tough 249 in the past 10 weeks. Even then, he’s still an unusually large and aggressive defensive end of high school. His size and strength make running on him difficult, but he’s nimble enough as a quarterback chaser to be a factor in the passing rush. He can get to the quarterback in many ways, including a brutal bull frenzy where he’ll drive a retired blocker 10 yards into the QB.
“Kevin is one of the reasons we moved from a three-man front to a four-man front,” said Wesley Jackson, Salisbury defense line coach. “He’s a batsman and one of our most improved guys. Last season his level of performance was up and down. But as a senior he found more consistency. He has become more of a leader. He has become a man we know will give 100 percent effort in every training session and game. “
Jackson is a Salisbury firefighter with a passion for soccer. He said his boss, Fireman Terry Smith, was working with him to plan and give him the opportunity to help the hornets.
“Sometimes I go early to start my shift and sometimes I stay late,” said Jackson.
Hayes credits Jackson for many of the steps he’s taken that year.
“Both the mental and the physical side of things,” said Hayes. “I didn’t have a very good attitude last year. But we’ve got a lot of young people out there this year and I knew that as a senior I had to be a better role model. “
Hayes said he started turning things around in person during the darkest COVID days.
“I made COVID positive,” said Hayes. “COVID gave me more time and I used that time to work on the things I needed to work on.”
Burns drove the ball 90 yards against the Hornets last Friday in the second quarter, a textbook a nine-minute drive from Burns 9, which reached Salisbury 1. Burns’ third-and-goal game of the 4 hit Hayes directly. He made the stop and forced a failed field goal attempt. Ninety yards – no points.
“Wildcat grabbed third place and the back came straight to me,” said Hayes. “The man who was blocking me went down and there was no way I could miss it.”
In addition to his normal tackles and clinging to the linebackers, Hayes had a third QB push on a rollout that forced Burns to play.
All in one night’s work. I’m just doing his job, he said.
But those were key pieces that he may not have done last year when he had more success and failure.
“He’s had a lot of different things going on over the last year,” said Jackson. “Last year I had to spend a lot of practice taking care of him. This year is all about football, and that means we can spend our time working on its technique. He uses this improved technique to make games. “
No more ups and downs. For Hayes only.
“He’s a great example of what an improved mental approach can do for a player,” said Hinson. “He was better in training, better in the weight room, better in games. There were nights when he was the glue that held everything together for us. “
A preview of Salisbury-North Davidson is posted online today.