By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Once you emerge into the top running back Munford High School, you will see your share of carries.
Last season as a junior, Chaz Hayes ran the ball more than 200 times for more than 1,000 yards. That’s not surprising with former Cougars like Buck Wakefield, Wilson Lowry and David Simon achieving those accomplishments the past decade.
But what makes Hayes stand a part is his development into one of the leaders of the Cougar offense and his stature at about 5’6 and 145 pounds.
Despite those measurables, then Munford Coach JR Kirby gave Hayes a chance. In 2016 Nick Markle took over the program and put his trust into Hayes being a mainstay of his offense.
“Sophomore year, I did a lot of dumb stuff,” Hayes acknowledged. “I really didn’t play that much. But Coach knew I had the potential. Then my 11th grade year, Coach put the ball in my hands and let me go out there and show what I can do. Now the 12th grade, I’m ready to keep it going.
“What helped me mature a lot was when Coach Kirby left,” he continued. “It helped me get closer to my Coach. He believed in me and I believed in him.”
Markle told Hayes he would be counted on last season to help rookie quarterback Nathan Davenport get used to playing under the lights on Fridays. He took on that challenge and helped the Cougars stay in the playoff picture all season long.
But the Cougars couldn’t make it three straight years of postseason play with crucial defeats toward the end of the season. Now a more confident Davenport enters 2017 with a Hayes ready to expand his role in the offense.
“I’m looking forward to getting more involved in the passing game this year too,” Hayes said. “We’ve got a lot of guys out there playing offense this year who didn’t play much last year. They usually play defense. So when I’m out there on the field with them, I’m going to try to lead them because I’ve always played on offense.”
Hayes has been groomed to be an explosive and elusive running back.
“My Dad (Charles Hayes) has bought me everything I needed,” he recalled. “And I want to thank my uncle (Johnny Washington)for helping me workout All my friends and senior teammates helped me get here.”
Hayes knows another solid campaign will help him reach awards like Wakefield, Lowry and Simon being named as All-Stars and to All-Region teams. But he wants to join former Cougars like Tommy Walker, Wakefield and most recently Tyler Cody as Munford players to reach the college football level.
“I hope to sign somewhere on National Signing Day,” he said. “I’ve got to get my grades up and keep them there. And I have to continue to produce on the field.
“The ideal senior year for anybody is to win the State championship,” Hayes concluded. “For right now I’m expecting nothing less than playoffs and a playoff win.”