BY YANEEK SMITH, BEACON CONTRIBUTOR
Despite the fact that his team lost, 36-27, to Rossford on Friday, Jaqui Hayward had one of the season’s best games of any area athlete.
Hayward’s incredible performance accounted for 417 yards of total offense, completing 14-of-29 passes for 274 yards and three touchdowns and an interception. He ran 16 times for 143 yards and a score.
For his efforts, Hayward was chosen as The Beacon’s Player of the Week.
Hayward talked about his play against the Bulldogs.
“I have a better understanding of the offense now,” he said. “That helps a lot. Our main focus as a team is to practice hard all week and stay focused. I believe in my team.”
Hayward also credited his offensive line for giving him time to throw.
“My offensive line has played great,” he said. They play hard on every play. I want to give them a shout-out because they work hard every day. Every big play I had is because of my line.”
Hayward is playing catch-up because he missed time during the preseason due to a concussion. He only played a few snaps against Bellevue and didn’t play against Bowling Green.
“Everything was new to him, and missing practice set him back a little bit,” said Oak Harbor coach Mike May. “He’s definitely becoming more comfortable with the offense.
“I’ve been impressed with the way he improves every week. He’s got a good work ethic and a good attitude.”
May had high praise for his sophomore quarterback, who had touchdown throws of 83 and 33 yards, respectively, as well as a 19-yard touchdown pass. Hayward also had a 65-yard touchdown run.
“He did a great job on the deep balls early in the game. Rossford gave us some zero coverage, and our offensive coaches made some good calls,” said May. “Our wide receivers stepped up and played a great game, too.
The Rockets, who are 1-2, face Woodward in Toledo on Friday at 7 p.m.
“The goal is to win the SBC Bay Division, make a playoff run and get better every week,” Hayward said.