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Hard Work Pays Off

Jake Partain and Andrew James

Nathan Bush, Staff Writer

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After two years of scoring field goal after field goal for the Hornets, senior Hayden Ray has received his recognition. The 5’11 kicker went 35/35 on extra points this year and only missed three field goals the entire season. His reliability helped earn him the honor of being named the 67th best kicker in the entire country, according to kholskicking.com. Ray broke seven school records and tied one, and also set the state record for most field goals made in a season, with 19.

“All of it was so exciting and overwhelming,” Ray said. “The only way of explaining my talents is to thank God, he gave me my talents and I used them to the best I could.”

A soccer player from the time he was just a little kid, Ray said he never planned on playing between the hashes. It was not until his sophomore year in high school that he decided to start up his football career.

“I never thought I would play football in a million years,” Ray said. ”I was all soccer and I wanted to play it in college and everything.” Ray said.

Ray’s team played themselves into the record book with a historic playoff run, landing all the way into the semifinals versus North Little Rock. While Ray’s contributions were key, Ray remains humble.

“I think that my kicking had a quite a bit to do with [our success], but all of our success was a team effort,” Ray said. “All the team gave 110 percent in practice and in-games, and you couldn’t have asked any more of them.”

Even after the season, Ray’s accolades are still stacking up. Just last month, Ray was announced as a finalist for the Chris Sailer award, an award given to the top high school placekickers in the nation. When Ray’s mother first got the call, she couldn’t believe it.

“When my mom got the call, we all thought it was fake,” Ray said. “It wasn’t until after and we found out that it was a legit thing that it really set in.”

While many players may get cocky, Ray’s easy-going attitude stands strong, and he always looks to thank others for his accomplishments.

“The motivation and support I receive from my family, team and friends keeps me moving forward,” Ray said.

Ray’s career is not coming to a halt just yet, as he received offers from several Arkansas schools like Arkansas Tech, Henderson State and the University of Central Arkansas. Ray signed with UCA Feb.

“My kicking career is weird,” Ray said. “I never kicked a football in my life, and to see myself where I am today is very humbling. It’s truly a blessing.

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