Faces in KS: Blake Haley

Blake Haley of Ark City has 84 tackles after five weeks of the football season. (Jennifer Boone)
By: Sports in Kansas - Chet Kuplen
Oct 9, 2014

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Over the past three football seasons, Arkansas City senior Blake Haley has been a tackling machine for the Bulldogs. Since the 2012 season, Haley has registered 284 tackles from his linebacker spot.

"He's such a stud and you wouldn't know it just by seeing him in regular clothes on the street, but when he puts on the pads he's a totally different person." Ark City head coach, Braden Smith said. 

Haley, a 5-foot-11 and 215 pound senior, has logged 84 tackles over the first five games of the 2014 football season. That's an average of 16.8 tackles per game, to unofficially lead the state of Kansas according to MaxPreps. Last season he registered 105 tackles and had 95 as a sophomore in 2012. It's safe to say he has a nose for the football. Haley is also the first to credit his defensive line for allowing him to make plays.

"Our defensive line does a great job of demanding a double team, which allows me to play free and make plays." Haley said.

Not only does Haley make a lot of plays on the football field, he is also the leader of this team and has put in countless hours of work to become the player he is.

"He's a fun kid to be around and he does everything right. He shows up all summer for weights and is the leader of our defense," Smith said.  "I am so happy to see him having the success he's had this season." 

Haley may also be one of the most underrated players in Kansas. He didn't receive first team all-league honors a year ago, but it only motivates him to become a better player.

"I think my biggest motivation is the desire to win and the hatred of losing.  Last year I didn’t make first team all-league and I am motivated to be first team all-league this year." Haley said.

Ark City has started off the season 2-3 on the year, but is very close to being 4-1 on the season with two losses to Valley Center and Andover by a combined four points. After the first four weeks of the season, the defense only allowed 14.75 points per game. 

"Our goal is to still win district and make the playoffs. We were able to play our rival, Winfield, this year and came out on top 34-13," Haley said. "We have done a pretty good job so far this season but we know we have to get better".

This week Arkansas City will host Pittsburg High, the #3 team in 5A by Kpreps, in a non-league contest before district play. The Purple Dragons (5-0) have yet to play a 5A squad yet this season. Ark City should have a very good shot at making the 5A playoffs as their district features Goddard (2-3), Goddard-Eisenhower (1-4) and Liberal (1-4). Look for Haley to make some big plays this week, we caught up with him below..

How did you get involved in athletics?

I was first introduced to team sports as a three year old playing soccer.  I started playing organized basketball while in Kindergarten and tackle football in 2nd grade.

How has the season went for you in 2014?

The season started better than I could have asked for.  We were able to renew our rivalry game with Winfield and we came out on top with a score of 34-13.  Statistically I am having my best season and am looking forward to working to get better.

How do you think the defense has played in 2014?

We have had a great year, but feel that we can get better.  Our Defensive Coordinator, Coach Hartman, has high expectations and continues to push us to get better, play harder, and have no mental mistakes. 

What makes you have such a nose for the football?

My Dad got me a PS2 when I was 5 and I played Madden for days.  Seriously, though I have been blessed with some great coaches and God given talent. 

What is the funnest thing about playing linebacker?

I think the greatest thing is making a big hit.  Our defensive line does a great job of demanding a double team, which allows me to play free and make plays.

How would you describe yourself as a football player?

Competitive.  I hate to lose and the desire to win drives me to play hard every down.

Any goals this season?

Our goal as a team is to win our district and then make a run in the playoffs. 

What do you use as motivation?

I think my biggest motivation is the desire to win and the hatred of losing.  Last year I didn’t make first team all-league and I am motivated to be first team all-league this year.

Best player you have faced in high school?

Maliek Collins from Kansas City.  He played OL and DL.  He went on to play at the University of Nebraska and played as a true freshman. 

Being recruited to play in college? offers?

I have several schools who are in touch with me but I have not accepted any offers currently.

Favorite subject in school?

Science.

What's it like to grow up in Ark City?

I grew up in Ft. Worth Texas and moved to Ark City during the middle of my 8th grade year.  My first year to play football in Ark City was my freshmen year.  Moving to Ark City was a big change.  My 8th grade football team in Texas had 140 players and my 9th grade football team had 17.  Living in a smaller town definitely is different, but I am glad we moved here.

Play any other sports?

I play basketball.

One thing the average person wouldn't know about you? 

I have been on missions trip in the Philippines, Guatemala, and Africa.  I was able to be a part of www.mannaworldwide in all three countries.  They are a non profit organization that feeds and meets the nutritional needs of needy kids all over the world.