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June 14, 2012Giltner loses Drew Ott, the best player in Class D2 (and maybe in the state) from last year's 10-1 team. They also lose Logan Rath, who accounted for 92 tackles and was a Huskerland All State pick as an offensive lineman. Most teams would have a lot of trouble replacing those players. The Hornets shouldn't have as big of a problem, especially with Kyle Hawthorne coming back.
Hawthorne gets every bit out of his 5'7-150 pound body. Hawthorne's numbers, if not for everybody looking at Ott's, would have jumped off the page last year. He accounted for 35 catches for 544 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also was used on reverses and out of backfield sets. The numbers rushing? Only 714 yards along with three more touchdowns. If that wasn't enough Hawthorne plays pretty well at safety as well where he picked off the opposition nine times.
Hawthorne's stats are as about well-rounded as you can get. In fact Hawthorne considers himself a do it all.
"I'd say I'm an all-around player. I can do a little bit of everything. Some things I can do better than others."
Giltner's record since 2008, 41-7, is impressive. In 2009 they were state runner-up. The problem is that since 2009 the powerhouse that is Howells football has beat the Hornets in the playoffs. Last year they lost in the quarterfinals to Howells in a heartbreaking 26-20 fashion. Coming so close to finishing at the top could be frustrating, but that won't change expectations.
Says Hawthorne, "Our main goal is perfection. Each year we like to set a new one, but after losing two of our main players we will have some young guys step up and make plays .just leave everything out on the field each game."
You won't find any disagreement from head coach Jeff Ashby.
"Our goal is still to make it to the state finals and get that elusive state championship that we want so bad. We got a good nucleus around us, we lost a really good senior in Drew (Ott), but we have a really good group coming back," says Ashby.
Hawthorne might be the key to the success of the team this year. His ability to make plays all over the field can turn the tides on a game at any given moment.
"It's all about being aggressive and making plays. I plan on doing that this next year," says Hawthorne.
On offense head coach Jeff Ashby wants to get the ball into the hands of Hawthorne even more. He believes the explosiveness of Hawthorne makes him a headache for the opposition.
"Kyle is extremely important with his speed and ball catching ability. He can do a lot of things for us. We can run as a wide receiver like we have done in the past, he runs our reverses...we probably will run him out of the backfield more this year."
Another way that Hawthorne will be able to make plays is on the opposite side of the ball. Nine times last season Hawthorne became an offensive threat after intercepting the football. A few were off batted balls, but most came from having a knack of being in the right place at the right time.
"Reading the qb's eyes. It's on instinct pretty much," says Hawthorne on the main reason he finds himself in position to make so many interceptions.
Giltner may have lost some big time talent from last year, but with Hawthorne and company coming back they will again be a favorite to make a run at number one. As Hawthorne said, nothing less than perfection will do.