Salado Eagles take the field 7:30 p.m. Aug. 26 at UMHB Crusader stadium to take on perennial rival Troy.
The Eagles will take the field under head coach Alan Haire, who returns to Salado as a graduate, football player and former offensive coordinator of the Eagles.
They will have a new look offense in the slot-T that Haire ran with great success at Lago Vista. Haire was head coach at Lago Vista for 13 years, making the playoffs eight years and seven of the last eight years he was there. Haire has a record of 84-69 as a head football coach. He took the Vikings to the 2A State Semi-finals in 2010, losing to powerhouse Cameron Yoe.
For the past six years, the final Friday in August has been one of hope and disappointment. In the past six years, under two different head football coaches, the Salado Eagles have been unable to notch more than 10 wins in total.
But Haire is no stranger to what it means to build a football program from nothing. His first head coaching job took him from Salado in 2000 to Lago Vista. The Eagles and Vikings were no strangers on the basketball court at that time, having been thrown into the central Texas 2A district more times than not.
However, Lago Vista was new to the game of football when Haire took over the reins there.
He had been coaching in Salado since 1994 under Dan Wasik and later under Joe Mullins. During that span, the Eagles missed the playoffs one time. This was when two and then three teams got the nod for the playoffs. “We went 8-2 that year and had to stay home,” Haire says. You can tell that the competitive side of him still stings from it.
Haire’s history and pride as a Salado Eagle runs deep. A 1998 graduate of Salado High School, he played football for Rance Dulaney.
Local fans are hopeful that Haire’s pride and history will help to rebuild a program that in 2007 reached the state semi-finals with a perfect record.
The Salado Eagles look a lot like the kids from Lago Vista. Haire will tap into the offensive scheme that he used to great advantage in Lago Vista.
The slot T takes advantage of quickness and intelligence on the offensive line, rather than just sheer size, “and it keeps the defense off of the field,” Haire said. “It is a good offense to control the clock and the game.”
It is also a good scheme for “average size players who give great effort,” he says.
Returning offensive starters are Trey Sheppard, junior, 5’9”, 165 lbs., running back, 83 carries, 415 yards, three TDs; Noah Barker, senior, 6’0”, 185 lbs., offensive lineman; Aaron Torcyznski, junior, 5’7”, 165 lbs., running back.
Offensive starters include Sheppard at fullback, Torczynski at halfback, Hayden Haire at quarterback and the trio of Jake Elliott, Jake Harvey and Cutter Hudgens at the tailback position. Trevor Stump and Gabe Kane will bookend the offensive line at tight end. Linemen will be tackles Robert Soto and Phillip Ruiz. Peyton Blisard and Barker will be guards and Jonah Bassa will center the offense.
The Eagles will have a 3-4 defense. “Most of our opponents will be running the spread offense,” Haire said. “You can put more people in coverage and disguise your coverages better.”
John Kirk, who played for the Eagles when Haire first coached here, will be the Defensive Coordinator. Kirk worked linebacker coach under Haire in Lago Vista and in Tomball.
Returning defensive starters are Cutter Hudgens, junior, 6’0” 170 lb. cornerback, First Team All District; Zach Adams, junior, 6’1”, 230 lbs., defensive lineman and Tate Hill, senior, 6’1”, 200 lbs. linebacker.
Adams will be joined by Willie Wigham and Wyatt Bagley on the defensive line. Linebackers will be include Hill, Jacob Wilk, Mac Miller and Nolan Maldonado. Clay Brown will start at cornerback and Tate Harvey and Parker Seaton will start at safety.
Other returning lettermen are Wyatt Bagley, junior, 6’0”, 180 lbs., outside linebacker; Holden Ford, junior, 6’1”, 175 lbs., free safety, Alex Soto, senior, 6’1”, 230 lbs., offensive lineman, Jake Harvey, senior, 5’9”, 180 lb. defensive back, Drew Dobbins, senior, 5’7”, 160 lbs., running back and Nathaniel Sunshine, 5’8”, 185 lbs., lineman.