Lou Holtz always said there are three questions that will tell you whether or not to you want someone on your team: Can I trust you? Are you committed? And Do you care about me?
Hawks Assistant Football Coach Sonny Judd says, “Without a doubt, you want Chase Puyear on your team.”
Judd continues, “The one word that comes to mind when I think of Chase is trust. You can trust that he will be on time or early. Trust that he will be coachable and will never take a play off. Trust that he will be super aggressive during the game but have a smile on his face as soon as it’s over. You can trust that Chase will do whatever it takes to get the job done.”
Senior Hawk Football player Chase Puyear has been a vocal leader for the team the last four seasons. This year, his leadership and play have been evident as he closes out his high school football career.
Puyear started playing football when he was six years old. “My dad (Chad) introduced me to Football when I was a kid. He used to take me out in the back yard and run me through drills with my older brothers. I remember seeing pictures of him back when he played football and from then on I wanted to grow up and one day be as good or better than he was.”
One of the most obvious and unique things about Puyear is his “old school mentality.” No disrespect to any teenager out there, but Puyear is the most well-mannered and respectful kid I have ever been around (and I have been around several over the years). It is “yes sir, no sir, please and thank you” all the time. He is opening the door for you, and always willing to lend a helpful hand.
Puyear concurs about being ‘old-school’. “I think that has a lot to do with the way I was raised as a kid. I like to think Mom and Dad did a pretty good job.” Indeed, they did.
Perhaps Puyear’s best quality is summed up by Coach Judd. “Chase is probably the most selfless player on the team. Going into this year Chase was the starting Fullback for two straight years. He got to ‘live the dream’ as Coach Maceo (Arnette) would say. With the change to the offense going into this season Chase was moved to Offensive Guard, due to his strength and physicality. He has become one of, if not the best offensive lineman we have this year.”
Judd continues, “Chase cares more about the team’s success than his stats. If it’s best for the team that Chase stays in the trenches instead of the end zone, he will be happy to never put on the old jersey again. He understands that this is bigger than him or any individual.”
Puyear currently leads the team in tackles with 36. His expectations are simple. “My expectations are to be one of the best Inside Linebackers in the state and lead the team and area in tackles. As far as the team is concerned, “I want to have a winning season, win district, and region and become a potential competitor in the State Championship.
His head football coach Josh Jaggers says, “To the football purists of the world, Chase is everything that epitomizes an “old school” player and then some. His leadership skills are second to none. He’s a football junky and has a vast knowledge of the game. He watches film like a coach, so nothing surprises him. As a matter of fact, he is like having a coach on the field.”
Jaggers remembers coaching Puyear his freshman year. “He wasn’t your typical freshman in terms of leadership, or in most cases with freshmen-a lack of leadership. Chase stepped in as a freshman and didn’t just start, but he started at one of our Inside Linebacker spots; a position that doesn’t ask for leadership, but demands it.”
“He’s just a total student of the game and the absolute best part about Chase is how unselfish he is. He doesn’t care one bit about personal stats. The previous two years he played the H-back (fullback/TE hybrid spot) and got some touches. This year? He’s got his hand in the dirt, coming off the ball as one of. If not our best offensive linemen and also having to wear a different number. He’s worn 45 his entire life, and due to playing on the OL he had to make a change, so he picked 52.”
“Most people might not think that’s a big deal, but kids these days have a serious attachment to “their number”, but he doesn’t care about any of the ME stuff; he is only concerned about WE.”
That “we” mentality is also evident on the baseball team where Chase competes at 1B and as a designated hitter last year. Head Coach Eric Allen says, “Chase is an intense competitor who is willing to do whatever it takes to win. He approaches baseball much as he does football. He is fearless on the field and willing to sacrifice his body. He is a great person to be around because he truly enjoys being a part of the team and being around the guys. Chase is a really fun athlete to coach.”
For the 2017 Hawks football team it was a time of transition as Hatmaker left to coach in Alabama. Puyear reflects on the transition from Hatmaker to Jaggers. “I learned a lot from Coach Hatmaker. He taught me many things, from how to be a better football player to how to be a better man in life and how to accept responsibility for my actions. He also taught me discipline on and off the football field. One thing that he said that will forever stick with me is “believe to see, because the best is yet to come’.”
“The transition from Coach Hatmaker to Coach Jaggers was really a test for myself and the team. I think we all handled it with class and we told ourselves that this was our year no matter what, coach Jaggers brings back that blue collar mentality to the team and I couldn’t be happier with the way the whole team and myself handled the coaching change.”
Puyear continues, “Coach Jaggers has had a major impact on me since his return, he brought back excitement to the program and preaches toughness to myself and the rest of the guys. He has all of my trust as a coach and a person and I doubt that the rest of the team or coaching staff feel any different He is really committed to getting this team to our goals and he has shown us that he is all in no matter the circumstances.”
Puyear gets it when he says the following: “football has taught me many things but two of the most important to me was to never take anything for granted because it could all end in a blink of an eye; another was to never squander your god given talent, give it all you got all of the time and never look back. I never thought I would be a senior playing my last season of high school football. It feels like a week ago I was standing in the back of the end zone watching my older brother Taylor play his last game as a senior and now it’s my turn.
Jaggers concludes by saying, “I’ve been coaching for 13 years, and he (Chase) might be the single most enjoyable young man I’ve ever had the pleasure of coaching.
“It’s been a family affair with Chase as I’ve also been fortunate to coach his brothers Kenny and Taylor, and to take it a step further, my dad coached their father Chad Puyear when he was in high school and dad was an assistant coach here. I know Dad and Chad had a very solid player/coach relationship and so do Chase/his brothers and I. Pretty special stuff.”
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