Trinity Episcopal defensive lineman Jared Hedrick runs through practice drills Monday afternoon during football practice. Saints head coach Josh Loy said Hedrick is one of the hardest-working members of the team. (Ben Hillyer \ The Natchez Democrat)

Hedrick fights through roller-coaster career to start as senior

Published 12:01am Tuesday, October 9, 2012

NATCHEZ — Football life has been a bit of a roller coaster for Trinity Episcopal senior Jared Hedrick, complete with the peaks and valleys.

After starting as an offensive lineman and linebacker at Huntington School, Hedrick transferred to Trinity in 2010 after Huntington closed down. Hedrick was forced to wait his turn his sophomore and junior seasons as other players got the starting nod over him.

But this season, Hedrick has emerged as a leader of the Saints’ defense at defensive end. He said all of the hard work was worth it, even if there were times he didn’t feel like it was.

“I had my ups and downs,” Hedrick said. “Once the season started, though, I brushed it off. I really love football. It’s worth it, all of the hard work, to be playing on Friday nights.”

Trinity head coach Josh Loy said Hedrick’s relentless motor has been a key to his success at defensive end. Hedrick also starts at offensive guard for the Saints, and Loy was complimentary of his play there, too.

“He’s allowed us to do things on defense like force turnovers, and he’s been great against the run,” Loy said. “On offense, he’s one of our better linemen as far as pulling and sustaining blocks.”

Hedrick said he prefers offense to defense, and having also played linebacker in the past, he said defensive end is his favorite position.

“I try to get to the edge so that nothing goes past me and I can keep the plays inside,” Hedrick said. “It’s really easy to learn my role, and with repetition, you’re doing the same thing, so it just comes natural. It’s fun with all the schemes the coaches put in.”

There’s the added benefit of having more eyes on you when you’re playing defensive line, too.

“You get more recognition when you stop them than you do on the offensive line,” Hedrick said. “I also like to hit.”

Hedrick has played for three different high school coaches, beginning with Chad Harkins at Huntington. He played for two years under David King at Trinity before Loy was hired this past summer.

“It’s kind of tough,” Hedrick said of getting used to three different coaches. “You just have to trust (your coach). When I met Coach Loy, I knew he had a straight head on, and I knew he’d run a good program. He’s led us to a pretty good season so far.”

Loy said Hedrick has exceled at everything he’s been asked to do up to this point.

“He missed some workouts this summer, but since he’s been here, he’s been one of our hardest workers,” Loy said. “I told him that there’s no telling how good he could have been if he had been here for all of our workouts. He’s made up for it, though. He’s made a ton of plays for us.”

The Saints (6-2, 1-0) will host Oak Forest Academy (3-4, 1-2) out of Amite, La., and Hedrick said he’s expecting to see the Yellowjackets play smash-mouth football.

“They have some big linebackers all over 200 pounds,” Hedrick said. “They’re a tough, physical team.”

But Hedrick said he thinks Trinity is also tough and physical.

“Our coaches help us every day with linemen drills to make us tougher,” Hedrick said. “We’ve had to fight through several games, so we’re at the point where we’re tougher.”

Loy said Oak Forest isn’t any secret as far as what kind of gameplan the Yellowjackets will bring with them.

“They will run right as us for four quarters,” Loy said. “It will be a gut check for us. It’s just smash-mouth football. There’s nothing fancy about.”

The game will also be homecoming for Trinity, and Loy said he’s aware of potential distractions that come with that.

“It’s been a normal Monday so far,” Loy said Monday. “It’s still early, so we haven’t fallen into it yet.”

Kickoff is at 7 Friday night at Trinity.