By RICK PETERSON
Barring a major upset, Hayden's football team was going to win Friday's regular-season finale against Hiawatha ... most likely by a sizeable margin.
But there were still several things Hayden coach Bill Arnold wanted his team to accomplish and the Wildcats did that in convincing fashion, wrapping up a perfect 8-0 regular season with a 56-7 Senior Night win over the Red Hawks at Hayden.
"We've got to keep getting better,'' Arnold said. "We haven't hit the top of the mountain yet with this group. We wanted to come out tonight and execute some things, but more than anything else I wanted the seniors to have a good night. This is a game that they'll remember the rest of their lives. Ironically, my last (high school) game was against Hiawatha my senior year and I remember almost every single play from it because Senior Night is something special and you want to add that to the memory books.
:"We also wanted to come out of here healthy, which is a big key right now for us. I thought we did some good things but we also did some things that we've got to correct a little bit.''
Hayden had wrapped up the Class 3A District 4 championship a week earlier and will open the postseason playoffs next Friday at home, with Baldwin expected to be the Wildcats' first-round foe.
Hayden forced a running clock throughout the second half due to the 45-point spread rule with 49 unanswered points in the first half.
Wildcat junior quarterback Jett Wahlmeier connected on 11 of 17 passes for 226 yards and five touchdowns in just a half of work while junior Jensen Schrickel caught six passes for 142 yards and a pair of TDs in the half and also picked off a pass on defense.
"I was thinking we just wanted to work some things out, get some things going and have a well-oiled machine for the playoffs,'' Wahlmeier said.
Sophomore Kade Mitchell rushed for 121 yards and a touchdown on just five carries and also caught two passes for 64 yards and a TD.
Eleven different players carried the ball for Hayden and six players caught passes as Hayden out-gained Hiawatha (1-7) by a 499-133 margin in total yards.
Hayden jumped out to a 22-0 first-quarter advantage, getting a 30-yard TD from Mitchell on the Wildcats' first play from scrimmage (Mason Becker run), a 29-yard TD pass from Wahlmeier to Schrickel (pass failed) and a 13-yard scoring run from junior Broderick Desch (Becker run).
The Wildcats tacked on four more scores in the second quarter -- an 8-yard TD strike from Wahlmeier to junior Treyton Tetuan (run failed), a 43-yard score from Wahlmeier to Schrickel (Becker kick), a 28-yard TD pass from Wahlmeier to Mitchell (Becker kick) and a 5-yard TD pass from Wahlmeier to junior Brady Heinen (Becker kick).
Hiawatha scored its lone touchdown on a pick-six by senior Kaden Morton early in the second half but Hayden answered with its final touchdown -- a 10-yard run from sophomore Jude Krentz.
HAYDEN 56, HIAWATHA 7
Hiawatha (1-7) 0 0 7 0 -- 7
Hayden (8-0) 22 27 7 0 -- 56
Hayden -- Mitchell 30 run (Becker run)
Hayden -- Schrickel 29 pass from Wahlmeier (pass failed)
Hayden -- Desch 13 run (Becker run)
Hayden -- Tetuan 8 pass from Wahlmeier (run failed)
Hayden -- Schrickel 43 pass from Wahlmeier (Becker kick)
Hayden -- Mitchell 28 pass from Wahlmeier (Becker kick)
Hayden -- Heinen 5 pass from Wahlmeier (Becker kick)
Hiawatha -- K. Morton 52 interception return (kick good)
Hayden -- J. Krentz 10 run (Becker kick)
Rushing -- Hiawatha: Monaghan 12-52, E. Morton 9-38, NA 4-12, Hageman 3-(minus)-1, Pyle 7-(minus)-8. Hayden: Mitchell 5-121, Ridley 3-72, Desch 3-16, Wolff 2-16, Becker 2-12, Wahlmeier 1-11, J. Krentz 1-10, Schrickel 1-8, Harris 1-2, Hanika 1-(minus)-1, Samich 2-(minus)-2.
Passing -- Hiawatha: Pyle 2-6-1, 40 yards. Hayden: Wahlmeier 11-17-0, 226; Hanika 1-2-1, 8.
Receiving -- Hiawatha: Newell 2-40. Hayden: Schrickel 6-142, Mitchel 2-64, Tetuan 1-8, Lenherr 1-8, Ridley 1-7, Heinen 1-5.
Punting -- Hiawatha: E. Morton 5-30.1.