Hayes Crockett

Quarterback Hayes Crockett and the Sterlington Panthers visit the Union Parish Farmers on Friday night in Farmerville. (Photo by Keith Foster)

Editor’s Note: As we wait for sports to resume locally, we’ll take a look back at the Top 10 high school football games since 2015.  Every week will feature a look back at the top games played amongst our parish teams.

No. 6: Sterlington vs. Union (2019)

As people, I believe it’s in our nature to exaggerate. Over the years, stories change due to mostly everyone’s ability to bend a truth. And that’s in all walks of life, but I’ve heard several stories from older fellows who have claimed to run a 4.4 40-yard dash in their day. The natural reaction to that is an admitted eye roll. So I wonder how many from future generations will have a similar reaction to Hayes Crockett when he tells ‘em, “I dialed up my own number with the game on the line.”

The difference here is the Panthers’ signal caller will be telling the truth.

Down 17-16 with 13 seconds remaining, the Sterlington coaching staff had a major decision on their hands. Seconds after freshman tight end John Barr reeled in his first varsity reception, a three-yard touchdown catch that brought the Panthers within one point, Sterlington head coach Lee Doty gathered with his team and fellow coaches to figure out the call for the impending two-point conversion.

“They were driving it down our throats,” Doty told The Ouachita Citizen after the game. “That had a lot to do with why I decided to go for two.”

The decision was made, but the Sterlington senior quarterback didn’t like it. The future ULM Warhawk lobbied for the ball, and Doty decided to put it in his hands.

“You have a 6-4, 230-pound quarterback, and three yards to go,” Doty said. “He’s wanting the ball, and saying, ‘I’ll get it,’ over-and-over. Those are the type of things that make Hayes a D-1 guy.”

The hole collapsed quickly on the two-point play, but Crockett kept his legs churning and pushed a pile of Union defenders into the end zone. The 18-17 victory against Union kept an unbeaten 3A district streak in tact. In fact, the Panthers are 15-0 in district contests since moving up a classification in 2017.

But that streak was in jeopardy on Oct. 11, 2019. Sterlington raced out to a 10-3 lead, but Union started winning the battle up front in the second half. The Farmers were stringing together drives that opened up bigger holes as the game went on. Fourteen unanswered points put Sterlington down a touchdown with the clock chipping away.

So the Panthers went to work. First, Layton Rainbolt returned a kickoff 22 yards to place Sterlington at its own 35. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but two plays later Crockett kept it for a 12-yard first down run. After Union’s Jason Hausley drug Crockett to the ground near midfield, the Panthers called timeout with 1:30 remaining in the contest. A Crockett scramble and Zach Crain rush that followed gave the Panthers another first down, as Sterlington reached Union’s 41-yard line. An odd play that resulted in Crockett catching his own defended pass led to him getting dropped for a seven-yard loss. That set up a third-and-17 with the clock winding down.

That’s when Crockett dialed up Sterlington’s reliable playmaker, Rainbolt, for a 27-yard reception that got the Panthers down to Union’s 21-yard line with the clock down to 27 seconds. Another completion to Rainbolt got the Panthers down to the six before a 12-men on the field call inched Sterlington three yards closer.

The rest of that drive, as they say, is history.

Any time a player dials his own number and comes through for his team is going to garner a lot of attention. In this case, against one of the most competitive teams in District 2-3A with the undefeated streak on the line, that’s what legends are made of.

After the game, star running back Dallas Reagor shouted, “Crockett for President,” as the final horn sounded. I think it’s safe to say he’d get a vote or two in Sterlington.

Up next week is a championship tilt for the ages as our countdown continues.   

Award-winning sports writer for columns and features since joining the field in 2013. As the first-ever featured columnist of the month at Bleacher Report, Martin cut his teeth with online media before joining the newspaper business in 2014.

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