Senior Night is never easy for any high school head coach so one can only imagine the way Jeremy Hathcock felt under the bright lights escorting with son Alec across the field at Desert Ridge High School in Mesa Thursday.
Jeremy isn’t only Alec’s father he’s his coach, who watched his son suit up for his final regular season home game before the Jaguars improved to 9-1 shaking off pesky Mountain View (3-7) 47-36.
Hathcock has been through it with his oldest son who also played at Ridge but, without question, it will be a night he won’t forget. He’s learned from the past.
“I coached my older son, he went through, we had our growing pains,” Hathcock told Sports360AZ.com after the Jaguars claimed the Division I Section III title with a perfect 5-0 record. “I really learned how to coach [Alec].”
One thing the younger Hathcock never needed direction on was toughness. The two-way running back/linebacker returned to the field against the Toros for the first time in about a month after tearing his ACL against Mesa.
“In my case, people usually get surgery right away,” Alec Hathcock said. “But ‘ya know it’s my senior year so I might as well play because I’m going to have to get surgery, anyway.”
He scored his 10th rushing touchdown of the year to cap off Senior Night and kept Mountain View’s defense honest running between the tackles as the potent Jags rushing attack mostly moved the ball at will capturing an early first quarter-lead they’d never relinquish.
“I thought he was the best two-way player in our region up until he got hurt,” Jeremy Hathcock said of his son. “He was averaging like nine yards a carry and nine tackles a game. He’s truly one of our leaders…not just because he’s my son.”
The veteran-laden team is filled with experience and savvy-proving Thursday they can win without play their best football.
The Jags’ senior class is 36-5-1 since stepping on the east Mesa campus.
“I just really appreciate those kids and how much they put in,” Hathcock said of his near 40-player senior class. “I love those kids.”
With the playoff seedings coming Saturday this group still has plenty to play for.