Sophomore Quarterback Takes Lead


James Ward

Sophomore quarterback Brant Hayden, #9, completes a pass in the North Forney scrimmage Sept. 17.

Olivia Caggiano, Copy Editor

As the sun sets on a cool September night, sophomore Brant Hayden suits up for his first varsity scrimmage as the starting quarterback. Hayden tries not to let the pressure get to him. When he steps onto the field, his mind clears, and the only thing he’s focused on is taking care of business.

Hayden was thrust into this leading role when senior quarterback Ethan McBrayer tore his ACL in an intersquad scrimmage. As a sophomore stepping into a leadership position on a nine time state championship team, Hayden is under a lot of pressure.

“It’s always been in the back of my mind that if anything happened to [McBrayer] I’d have to step up, but I was shocked seeing him get hurt,” Hayden said. 

Hayden grew up playing football and started playing quarterback in seventh grade. Last year he played as a starter on the freshman team. He said that the varsity games have a whole different level of speed and intensity.

“The pressure has definitely changed my play in some good ways and some bad ways,” Hayden said. “I just think about this play and executing right now, not about the next play or the last play.”

As a kid growing up in Aledo, Hayden always idolized the high school football players and hoped to one day be in their shoes. But he never expected to be doing it so young.

“I look up to Jake Bishop because he was put in the same situation I am in as a sophomore,” Hayden said. 

As one of three sophomores on the varsity team, Hayden has found mentors in the veteran lineman.

“Brady Wood, Rocco O’Keefe and Carter Miller really help me out by talking a lot during the game,” Hayden said. “They calm me down and encourage me.”

For Hayden, working closely with the coaches and building team chemistry has been the most important part of preparing for the Bearcats’ first game against the Weatherford Kangaroos. Hayden spent a lot of time going through plays and watching film with the coaches, as well as trying to improve his chemistry on the field with senior running backs Demarco Roberts and Jeremiah James.

“Weatherford runs the same defense as us, cover four or cover two,” Hayden said. “In order to beat that we hit the flats and then once we’ve done that enough, we can take a shot.”

In a town with a football culture as intense as Aledo’s, the morale rides on the shoulders of the quarterback. Hayden said that it has been difficult to wrap his head around, but his parents, Terry and Connie Hayden, as well as his friends help him handle the pressure. 

“I have to talk to the coaches a lot more now and get close with them, and a lot more people at school come up to me and say stuff about the games,” Hayden said. “I don’t know if I like everyone coming up to talk to me. I think that should just stay on the football field and I should just be me at school.”

After last Thursday’s scrimmage against North Forney, Hayden said he feels ready and confident to take on Weatherford, and his attitude reflects the football culture that is so prevalent in Aledo.

“I play because I really love the sport,” Hayden said. “The best thing about competing is trying to be on top all the time, and I really enjoy that.”

The Bearcats will play the Weatherford Kangaroos Saturday, Sept. 26 at 3:30 p.m. at Globe Life Stadium in Arlington.