Hayes helped lead a defensive charge that slowed visiting Wakulla to nearly a standstill. The Cowboys blitzed the War Eagles 42-9 in a Region I-2A final at Boot Hill before a boisterous home crowd.
Tailback Desmond Gee, a junior waterbug who was playing with a heavy heart, had 147 yards and three touchdowns to pace the winners Gee's mother passed away last Monday following an illness.
Hayes, meanwhille, paced a defensive effort that held the pass-happy Eagles to 157 total yards and a minus-26 rushing yards. Hayes had two of the Cowboys' five sacks.
"Ping-Pong's (Gee) mom passed away, so we had to come out and do our thing. We had no choice," Hayes said.
"Wakulla tried to do a little more passing on us. It worked a little bit but we didn't have any problem stopping that."
While Hayes, a linebacker, is considered one of the nation's top players, he's also the consummate team player who has elevated his teammates' play.
Hayes has more than 90 tackles this season and around 13 sacks.
The Cowboys have limited seven opponents to negative rushing yards.
If all goes as planned, Madison County will probably face Hollywood Chaminade for the state title for the second consecutive year.
Chaminade blanked the Cowboys 27-0 at Florida Field last December.
"My season has gone well. I am pretty pleased," Hayes said.
"But to tell you the truth, the team has come up (played well). Everyone has elevated their game -- everyone is equal now. We are in this together."
Hayes said the recruiting process continues to churn forward.
In fact, Hayes, both personable and polite, says he has enjoyed the process. He currently listing Auburn and Southern Cal among his top two.
He also said he may add another Southeastern Conference school to the mix, possibly Mississippi. Hayes also said he chats with Lincoln receiver Fred Rouse about recruiting when the two cross paths.
"I've enjoyed it (recruiting). It's only once in a lifetime and you have to have fun with it," said Hayes, who had planned to remain at home this past weekend and not attend any collegiate games.
Hayes also said nearby Florida State had not fallen off in terms of his interest.
"They are still in it," Hayes said.