All-around EthanEthan Haley’s versatility is on display every time the New Rockford-Sheyenne football team takes the field.
By: By Chris Aarhus, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Ethan Haley’s versatility is on display every time the New Rockford-Sheyenne football team takes the field.
The junior standout is anything but limited in his ability to play the game. When he’s not taking snaps at quarterback, he lines up in the backfield as a running back and also splits out at wide receiver.
“It’s fun to change it up a little,” said Haley, who rotates at the signal-caller position with sophomore Seth Gilliss. “It seems pretty natural, I guess.”
He knows what he likes, though.
“I don’t really see myself as a quarterback,” Haley said. “I’d rather run it than throw it.”
Haley’s skill set is likely the cause of a few nightmares for 9-man Region 2 coaches. He’s helped power the fourth-ranked Rockets to an unbeaten record of 4-0 including a 3-0 mark in the region.
“Everybody in the town’s excited,” Haley said. “I’ve heard from a lot of people about how happy they are for us. If we’re gonna do anything, it’s gonna be this year.”
Of the 20 players on the New Rockford-Sheyenne roster, 10 are seniors. And that’s a fact not lost on Haley or the rest of the underclassmen.
“We know this is our best chance to do anything if we’re gonna do it,” Haley said. “That’s a big thing we think about. We lose a lot next year.”
Their latest victim is fourth-ranked Cavalier, which entered last Friday’s contest in New Rockford unbeaten as well. The Tornadoes didn’t leave that way, however.
Led by the Rockets’ barrage of standout skill-position players, New Rockford-Sheyenne topped Cavalier 48-42 in overtime.
“It was pretty awesome,” said Haley, whose team beat Lakota-Adams-Edmore 48-42 in two overtimes the week before. “It was a close game the whole time. (The Lakota game) added some experience to it. We knew we were gonna win once we got it to overtime.”
Alex Perleberg’s 2-yard touchdown run in overtime kept the Rockets in control of their own destiny in a region that’s loaded with strong traditions like Cavalier, Hillsboro and Lakota-Adams-Edmore.
Much like he did against Lakota-Adams-Edmore, Haley put his stamp all over the box score. He had TD runs of 37, 70 and 35 to go along with a 60-yard touchdown catch from Gilliss, who also hurled a scoring strike to Javan Arroyo for 35 yards.
The Rockets led 34-22 before a fourth quarter comeback by Cavalier tied the game at 42 to send it into overtime. New Rockford-Sheyenne also got a strong game from Perleberg, whose first TD run was from 6 yards out.
“I think we had more heart and wanted it more with our home crowd with us,” Haley said. “That helped a lot.”
The performance of New Rockford-Sheyenne’s offense has become a weekly occurrence. The Rockets are averaging 45 points a game and have scored at least 38 each game. Haley has eight rushing TDs, four passing TDs and a one receiving score, while Perleberg has rushed for six TDs. Gilliss has five TD strikes and receivers Arroyo and Chance LaBrie have three scores each.
Even all-state defensive lineman Josh Edmonson has gotten in on the fun, rushing for three TDs and catching another.
“Our receivers and running backs all have the ability to make plays,” Haley said.
If the Rockets weren’t turning heads before, they certainly are now. Even so, Haley’s trying to keep himself grounded.
“It’s looking pretty good, but we can’t let all of this go to our heads,” Haley said. “We still have to come out and play every weekend and win.”
Sun sports writer Chris Aarhus can be reached at (701) 952-8462 or by email at email@example.com