Nick Hayden's defensive prowess made him the top recruit in the state of Wisconsin this year. But at the Army All-American Bowl Jan. 3, Hayden flashed some of his offensive skills, catching a 6-yard, third-quarter touchdown pass to give the East a 24-14 lead.
Hayden, the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association's Defensive Player of the Year, was selected for the high school all-star game to play on the defensive line. The 39-player team, though, needed some help on offense.
"I told them that I had experience at tight end and they needed another tight end," Hayden said. He also played defensive line for the East team, which won the annual contest 45-28.
"It was a good experience playing with like the best kids in the nation," said Hayden, who verbally committed to Wisconsin in late August. "It was a lot of fun. Got to meet a lot of good friends."
Hayden spent a week in San Antonio leading up to the game, practicing up to five hours per day. He was not expecting the long practices or playing tight end, but was perfectly fine with each.
"We wanted to win the game," he said. "That's why we came down there."
Hayden is accustomed to winning and to leading the Warhawks. After reaching the state championship game in football for the second consecutive season, Hayden has his sights set on another end-of-season trip to Madison, this time in basketball.
"I think we have a real good chance of making it to state," he said. "I think our team's solid this year and we have a lot of good players."
Arrowhead, which returned four starters from a team that made it to a sectional final last year, is currently 7-2 overall, 4-1 in the Classic Eight, trailing only Catholic Memorial (8-0, 5-0) and Waukesha South (9-1, 5-0) in the conference standings. Memorial, the No. 1 ranked Division 2 team in the state in the latest WBCA/Wishoops.net Coaches Poll and Wauwatosa East, No. 4 in Division 1, are the only teams that have beaten the Warhawks this season.
The 6-foot-5, 275-pound Hayden is a driving force behind Arrowhead's success, averaging 19.2 points per game. He has hit an incredible 33 of 34 free-throw attempts this season.
After the basketball season, Hayden plans to lift and get ready for college.