By Adam Knorr
Local Sports Journal
HOLTON – As Holton football Coach Jack Nummerdor put it, senior quarterback Hayden Cregg “wants the ball in his hands when we need a few plays.”
But in the past Cregg preferred to run in key situations. This season Nummerdor, a first-year coach, introduced a playbook that calls for more passing.
Cregg had his doubts about that idea at first.
“Sometimes at the beginning of the season I wasn’t real comfortable,” Cregg said about the new emphasis on passing.
It’s safe to say that Cregg has adjusted. Consider his performance in Holton’s recent showdown with archrival Hesperia.
He completed 9 of 10 passes for 293 yards and two touchdowns. He also played the role of last-minute hero.
The Red Devils were trailing with just over a minute left, and faced a fourth down situation with 12 yards to go. Cregg calmly completed a 28-yard pass to Tristen Anderson, keeping the Holton drive alive.
That set up a five-yard touchdown run by Tirzo Angiano, giving Holton an exciting 26-24 victory.
“On the final drive we had them, and we had pressure on the quarterback, but he’s a good athlete,” Hesperia Coach Aaron Sims said of Cregg.
Cregg was a dual threat last year, as well, throwing for 661 yards and rushing for 361 yards with 11 total touchdowns.
This year he’s better in both respects, amassing 977 yards through the air, 600 yards rushing and 13 total touchdowns.
“I never passed the ball much, but I can do it. I’ve gotten better at it,” said Cregg, who threw for 105 yards, including a touchdown, in Holton’s 49-0 victory over White Cloud last Friday. “Coach has taught me a lot of things.
“I like to scramble out of the pocket and throw the ball.”
Meeting athletic challenges is nothing new for Cregg.
He’s an outstanding two-way player, despite being slowed this year by an ankle injury. He’s a second-year starter at quarterback and sees a lot of time on defense as a safety.
He was named to the All-Area team last year on defense. This year he had 38 tackles and three interceptions through six weeks of action.
Cregg has also been a member of the varsity baseball squad since his freshman year, and is a gifted wrestler, earning two All-State nods during his time on the mat for Holton.
“Wrestling has helped me with my mindset,” he said. “My confidence is always up and I never feel like I’m done.”
Although Cregg rarely leaves the field in football, his stamina rarely seems to waiver. Whenever the ball is snapped, Cregg is ready to throw every ounce of effort at the play.
“You’re not going to see a kid who should be more winded that Hayden,” said Nummerdor, who calls Cregg the hardest worker on the team. “I haven’t been able to make him tired yet.”
Cregg’s future is still murky, although he said he would like to wrestle in college if given the opportunity.
He takes after his Dad. Who has always stood like a rock behind him. Congrats Hayden, you're a great athlete!