Seeley Swan Pathfinder -


By Andi Bourne

Eagles fight through challenges, finish season strong


October 17, 2019

Nathan Bourne, Pathfinder

John Debernardi and Ashton Hinchey block for Tyler Haines as he runs the ball for the Eagles' only touchdown against Clark Fork, Oct. 10. The final score was 6-20. Photos Nathan Bourne, Pathfinder

SEELEY LAKE – The Seeley Lake Elementary Eagles' flag football team is wrapping up their season this week. Head Coach Brett Haines is happy with the season and the progress the boys made posting a 7-4-1 record. He added it was a great group of players to coach.

While the numbers fluctuated, Haines said they had up to 19 players including four eighth graders who led the team. They started out really strong winning their first games. However when eighth grader Cannon Hawkinson was injured and not able to return for the season, they had to adapt their offense.

"Cannon was a huge part of our offense scoring about two touchdowns a game for us and a big part of our defense making a lot of flag poles," said Haines. "He was a great football player and we really missed him."

While the loss was a challenge for the team, Haines said they reassigned positions and reconfigured their lineup. It took three games to really adjust and start playing well.

Haines said the eighth grade class led the team this year. They all developed and really improved over the season.

Eighth grader Ashton Hinchey played on the line for the offense and defense. Haines said he blocked well and was a great punter.

"He's gotten a hold of a couple punts that he could be punting at the high school level right now," said Haines.

Eight grader Austin Gonzalez was a defensive end and was shifted to offensive linebacker following Hawkinson's injury. He was also a lineman on defense. Haines said he was really getting the hang of it towards the end of the season.

Swan Valley School eighth grade Jalen Kauffman kept getting better and better as a lineman. Haines said in one game he got a Pick 6. Haines explained he intercepted a pass from the quarterback of the other team and ran it in for a touchdown.

Haines also highlighted the play where Kauffman tipped a pass that Hinchey was able to recover for the interception.

"My line doesn't usually see a lot of interceptions so it was a really fun play for those two," said Haines.

Only having three eighth graders for most of the season, Haines brought up his four seventh graders Seth Dunster, Tyler Haines, Dylan Wilkinson and Cody Mason.

"The seventh grade class really came up and supported and I'm looking forward to them leading the team next year," said Haines.

Haines also brought up sixth graders Kolten Zurmuehlen, Noah Stone, John Debernardi and Quinlan McClure .

Nathan Bourne, Pathfinder

Kolten Zurmuehlen makes a fourth down stop at the 24 yard line in the game against Clark Fork.

"That is asking a lot of a sixth grader to come up to that varsity level," said Haines. "They really stepped up and did a great job."

Haines said the top two teams in the league this year were Hellgate and Clark Fork. The last time they played Hellgate, they had an opportunity to score for the win but a Hellgate player made a great play. They settled for the tie. While Clark Fork beat them by three touchdowns, Oct. 10, Haines said the team played hard and he was happy.

The last game of the season was in Lone Rock Oct. 15.

"We won the majority of our games and had one tie," said Haines. "We came out and played some good football. I really felt good about where our kids were."

Haines continued said, "We wish our eighth graders the best of luck and I hope to see them playing at the next level."


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