Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Slegers thriving in new-look offense at Ontario Christian

- By Eric-paul Johnson

Hayden Slegers has started 30 games behind center for the Ontario Christian football program. So it will not be a surprise to see his name in the program’s record book when his career comes to an end.

The categories Slegers appears in might be a shock for anybody who saw him play his first three seasons.

Slegers was the quarterbac­k in a run-heavy, Wing-t offense for the first 26 games of his career and did more damage with his legs than his arm. Slegers had more runs than pass attempts each of those three seasons.

But the southpaw now is getting a chance to show his skills as a passer in the spread offense installed by first-year head coach Andrew Lachelt, a former quarterbac­k who graduated from Ontario Christian in 2010.

Slegers has broken the program’s single-game record for passing yards twice in four games this season.

“This all started back in March when I first got the job,” Lachelt recalled. “I sat Hayden down and just I told him, ‘I believe in you . ... I’ve seen it up close for a couple of years. Now it’s time to put it on full display.’“

The switch in schemes was never daunting for Slegers because of that confidence shown by Lachelt.

“Everything is new to me, and that could have been kind of scary. But it always helps knowing that I have somebody who believes in me and is fighting for me,” Slegers said. “He’s strict and cracks down when that’s needed, but he is encouragin­g and uplifting. That makes things a bit easier knowing he has faith in me.”

And it did not take long for the results to show on the field. Slegers started his senior campaign with a bang, as he completed 23 of 27 passes for 318 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-35 victory over St. Margaret’s. The program’s previous record for most passing yards in a game was 295, set by Tyler Vanderzee in 2006.


Slegers broke his own mark last week, as he completed 18 of 26 passes for 437 yards in a 40-22 victory over Adelanto. And Slegers tossed six touchdown passes in that victory to set another program record.

“We had some long plays in that game, and I knew the number was going to be pretty big,” Slegers said. “But when I found out it was 437, I just said, ‘Whoa!’ It’s kind of crazy to think about it even now.

“I have to give all glory to God. He has given me the ability to do all of this stuff out there on the field. And I couldn’t do it without my teammates, especially the O-line. They are the big reason we can do any of this.”

It’s that kind of selflessne­ss that has made Slegers one of the most respected players in the program. When the 71 players on the team submitted votes for captains this year, Slegers was a unanimous pick.

“You have to be a great leader to play the quarterbac­k position, and he’s shown that leadership time and time again,” Lachelt said. “The offense is built around him, but you would never know that after one of our games. He’s always talking about and thanking his teammates. He is a true servant leader.”

Slegers’ combined passing numbers during his first three seasons at Ontario Christian were 1,658 yards and 20 touchdowns. He already has thrown for 1,005 yards and 11 touchdowns in four games this season.

And Lachelt believes greater things await Slegers and the program this season.

“Every week, Hayden just seems to find something new in the offense,” Lachelt said. “His mind is starting to expand, and everything really clicked for him last week. He’s identifyin­g coverages and blitzes much quicker and getting the ball out faster. He logs so much film time, and it’s really showing with how he is performing in the games. He’s very hungry and wants to be the best he can be.”

Ontario Christian is 3-1 this season and hosts Bishop (3-0) in a nonleague game Saturday night.

 ?? WILL LESTER – STAFF PHOTOGRAPH­ER ?? Ontario Christian quarterbac­k Hayden Slegers has been breaking program passing records this season after passing sparingly his first three seasons.
WILL LESTER – STAFF PHOTOGRAPH­ER Ontario Christian quarterbac­k Hayden Slegers has been breaking program passing records this season after passing sparingly his first three seasons.

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