On a recent summer evening, Valencia High quarterback Connor Downs hit Moises Haynes with an accurate pass, but it was Haynes who threaded the needle.
The 200-pound back found a seam down the sideline and turned the screen play into a TV screen-worthy play. The Vikings were hosting Canyon High for an 11-on-11 practice, where “if they touch you even with one finger, you’re down,” Haynes said.
No one touched the rising senior, who’s not known for avoiding contact.
Haynes, and his lower-your-shoulder running style, burst onto the scene as a junior, his first full season on varsity, rushing for 1,682 yards and 22 touchdowns.
He caught 26 passes for 245 yards and two more scores.
He is The Signal’s 2016-17 Newcomer of the Year.
Entering the season, though, all Haynes wanted to do was contribute. The Vikings had senior Effie Davalos in the backfield, with talented sophomore Jayvaun Wilson competing for carries. Then Davalos broke his leg during a preseason team workout.
All Haynes did was step in and rush for a season-high 256 yards and three touchdowns against Newbury Park in his third game.
He grew more consistent as the year progressed, though, rushing for 140-plus yards in four of his final five games.
“I got used to it by the fourth or fifth game,” Haynes said. “I really, really wanted to accelerate my game. I don’t want to just be a good player. I want to be a great player.”
In order to pursue that goal, he joined Valencia’s track and field team this spring, hoping to improve his speed. He competed in the 100-meter dash and the 4×100 relay.
He wants to be a balanced back who can run over one guy and run past another. Like on that recent summer evening, when he took Downs’ pass and turned upfield. He found himself behind a contingency of blockers and soon ran by them, ran by everyone.
“The Canyon coach even said that was a touchdown,” Haynes said. “But (Valencia coach Larry) Muir wanted to do more plays so it didn’t count. I don’t mind. I like to get more work in.”
Inside the Ballot Box
|Jovan and Ryan Camacho||1||0||2||7|
Key: First place: 5 points, Second place: 3 points, Third place 1 point
Past Newcomers of the Year
2015-16 — Lauren Russ (Valencia)
2014-15 — Miles Fallin (Canyon)
2013-14 — Nikol Popov (Valencia)
2012-13 — Samantha Ortega (Saugus)
2011-12 — Abbey Weitzeil (Saugus)
2010-11 — A.J. Balta (Valencia)
2009-10 — Steven Manfro (Valencia)
2008-09 — Carly Mortensen (Valencia) & Steven Thornton (Golden Valley)
2007-08 — No award given
2006-07 — Kearsten Livingstone (Canyon) & Ryan Zirbel (Saugus)