Hatch becoming leader for Chieftains
Published 8:58 am Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Dowagiac football player Jared Hatch is providing leadership with his play and words this year.
The 5-foot-9, 155-pound senior, who starts at running back and safety and plays on special teams, showcased those traits last Friday in the Chieftains 14-7 win over Three Rivers.
Hatch’s legs provided the turning point in the game midway through the fourth quarter. Fourteen seconds after the Wildcats scored to take a 7-6 lead with 6:56 remaining in the game, Hatch snatched the momentum away from Three Rivers with his 86-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
It was the first career kickoff return for a touchdown for Hatch, whose been a three-year starter on the varsity.
“It was a little exciting and fun, but, I could care less about that,” Hatch said about his first career kickoff return touchdown. “Anyone else could have scored that touchdown. I’m just glad we got the win.
“I just told all the guys that we couldn’t keep our heads down. There were still 7:00 left on the clock. We just had to take the kickoff and get good field position. The return wouldn’t have been possible without the blocks from my 10 teammates.”
Dowagiac football coach Mike Stanger loved seeing his team execute on special teams.
“Jared did a great job,” Stanger said. “He stayed behind the wedge at it came together.
“That’s a great feeling to work on something like that and have the kids execute it.”
Playing defensive back, Hatch was also part of a Chieftains’ defense that executed its game plan to perfection. Three Rivers, which came in averaging 35 points a game, was held to one touchdown, 223 yards and misfired on 19 of its 30 passes with two interceptions.
“They say defense wins championships,” Hatch said. “If a team can’t score, obviously, they can’t win so I enjoy playing defense a little bit more,” Hatch said.
Kevin Whitaker’s interception for Dowagiac with 1:29 left in the game sealed the win for the Chieftains.
“Kevin hasn’t gotten a lot of playing time this year,” Hatch said. “We put him in this game because he’s really been stepping up in practice and working hard. I’m just glad to see him come in and make a play like that and seal the game for us. We’ve got to credit him big-time for the win.”
A win that was much needed for Dowagiac. The Chieftains couldn’t afford to fall to 1-2 on the year.
“It was a great team effort,” Hatch said. “We all came out and played Dowagiac football. We’re trying to bring back the winning tradition to the program.”
Last year’s 3-6 record still stings Hatch. Prior to last season, the Chieftains had made the playoffs eight times over nine years.
“That’s one of the things we’ve keyed on every day,” Hatch said. “We’re not going 3-6 again. Historically, our program has been tough. Three and six isn’t acceptable and that’s what we’ve been telling each other all year. We have to raise our standards this year. We play as a team this year. We play together more and have each other’s backs.”
Stanger likes the talent and the attitude that Hatch brings to the team.
“Jared has started for three years on the varsity for us,” the Dowagiac coach said. “The potential has definitely been there.
“That kid this year has done a great job as a leader.”