A starter since his sophomore year, Aidan Hayward has been a sack machine for Owen J. Roberts.
Hayward became the school's all-time sack leader in a game against Spring-Ford on Oct. 12. The senior defensive end recorded two sacks that day to bring his career total to 23, passing 2017 graduate Nick Duliakas' 21 sacks. Hayward added 2 1/2 more sacks over the next two weeks to bring his season mark to 12. He recorded 3 1/2 sacks in 2106 and 10 in 2017 for a career total of 25 1/2.
Hayward’s 2018 game-by-game sack numbers
Hayward said he learned a lot from Duliakas, who was also on the wrestling team at Owen J. Roberts, when they started together along the same defensive line for one season.
"He was a great leader for the team," said Hayward, who also plays right tackle. "He was also a good role model for me as a young starter. He told me to always work hard and you'll get whatever it is you want to achieve."
Head coach Rich Kolka talked about what it was like to have Hayward and Duliakas on the same line.
"That was pretty cool," Kolka said. "Nick was difficult to block. He was really good. He had such a high sack number that I didn't think anybody would be able to beat it."
The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Hayward has transformed into the player he is today because of his dedication to the weight room, he said. After weighing in at around 180 pounds during his freshman year, Hayward can now squat 450 pounds and bench-press 300.
"I don't think he's ever missed a workout in the offseason," Kolka said. "He's a dedicated young man who shows great leadership and work ethic."
In addition to being a pure speed rusher, Hayward uses a push-pull technique to knock the offensive player off balance. After grasping the offensive player's chest, the defensive lineman pushes forward with one hand while pulling back with the opposite hand.
He also enjoys teaching the game to youth football players, and he attends his younger brother's games and practices with the Coventry Wildcats. The Owen J. Roberts youth football program teaches players from kindergarten through sixth grade various offensive and defensive schemes.
Hayward, who has been looked at by Division I and II college coaches, is also an excellent student with a 3.2 grade point average.
Owen J. Roberts (6-4) lost to Upper Merion, 29-27, on Friday and, as a result, was eliminated from contention for a District 1 playoff berth. The Wildcats will host Daniel Boone this Friday night.