‘The Cheerleader’: Hayden junior keeps crowd fired up in homecoming loss
HAYDEN — “Are you ready?” Keaton Knez asked to the Hayden High School homecoming crowd.
“West Grand just scored, maybe it’s a bad time,” someone from the crowd said. So, Knez waited.
After West Grand scored a two-point conversion to go up 32-0 in the third, the Hayden junior started a cheer. “Hayden!” he waved to the right. “Tigers!” he waived to the left. “Hayden! Tigers,” he kept it going, with one half of the crowd yelling the first word, the other half yelling the second.
There wasn’t much to be peppy about in the Hayden football team’s 40-0 homecoming loss to the Mustangs, on Friday, Oct. 18, but Knez kept the crowd pumped up all night long.
“They’re my boys, and I grew up with all of them. They know who they are, and I know who they are,” Knez said of the Tigers football players. “They’re good. They are good. I know it, and they know it. They just have to show everybody else.”
Knez doesn’t play football, he runs cross country for Moffat County, but he said all his buddies are on the team, so he wants to support them. With his energy and spirit, he just sort of fell into the position of leader of the cheers.
“One night, I had a lot of energy and I was like, ‘You know what? Let’s get hyped up,'” Knez said. “People were like, ‘That was cool,’ so I kind of just kept doing it. It’s kind of fun. I always used to think adults were kind of stickler-ish, not wanting to be loud, but they enjoy it. Everybody likes it.”
While the cheers are mainly shouted by the student section, some parents and staff will join in. Knez also does his best to include the little kids in the stands. He has a young friend named Joseph who he goes to church with who loves to join Knez and the Tiger fans in a cheer.
Early in the third quarter, the Mustangs scored again, bringing the score to 40-0 and starting a running clock. Still, Knez kept at it.
“We’re from Hayden, couldn’t be prouder, if you can’t hear us, yell a little louder,” the crowd called.
Knez, wearing a letterman jacket with an H on his left chest and MoCo on the right, lifted his hands in the air. The crowd started quiet and with each iteration, grew louder, so his hands rose higher.
Hayden senior starting quarterback Reese Kern said Knez is the hype man for Hayden and that he appreciates a loud crowd even when the Tigers are losing.
“It’s great, honestly,” Kern said. “It shows we have school pride even though stuff doesn’t go our way. We still have kids there keeping us going.”
Until the very end of the game, the Tigers faithful supported their team, something Knez hopes to continue doing next year.
“I got the name the cheerleader, and I’m gonna keep it,” Knez said. “It’s a lot of fun. They came over to one of our cross country meets for the first year (ever). So, I think, if they’re gonna do it for us, I’m gonna keep on doing it for them.”
Hayden is now 2-5 on the season and will next travel to Denver Christian before hosting Soroco on Friday, Nov. 1, to wrap up the regular season.
West Grand 40, Hayden 0
WG 16 16 8 0 — 40
H 0 0 0 0 — 0
WG — Jakob Buller 55 rush, Jesus Dominguez from Buller, 9:27
WG — Dominguez 16 pass from Buller, conversion good, 32.3
WG — Buller 73 rush, Omar Dominguez from Buller, 9:41
WG — Gabriel Torres 16 pass from Buller, conversion good, 6:07
WG — Ely Ryszkowski 3 rush, Alejandro Castanon from Buller, 7:46
- Sept. 7: at Justice, W 68-6.
- Sept. 13: vs. Simla, L 20-16.
- Sept. 20: at Gilpin, W 36-28
- Sept. 27: vs. Plateau Valley, L 20-18
- Oct. 4: at Vail Christian, L 54-16
- Oct. 11: at Rangely, L 30-12
- Oct. 18: vs. West Grand, L 40-0
- Oct. 26: at Denver Christian, 1 p.m.
- Nov. 1: vs. Soroco, W 38-18
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