Bearcats bloodline fuels Hayes’ Homecoming heroics

Jordan Hayes rushed for 171 yards and two scores in the Bearcats homecoming win over West Ouachita. (photo by T. Scott Boatright)

By T. Scott Boatright 

There’s always a sense of family and legacy that intermingle with memories of the past and hopes for the future during a Homecoming football game.

Ruston High School sophomore running back Jordan Hayes knows those feelings well.

Hayes highlighted Ruston’s 2022 Homecoming performance in winning fashion Friday night as his 171-yard, two touchdown rushing performance helped propel the Bearcats 48-7 on a night more than worth celebrating.  

Pressed into more action due to the loss of senior running back Dyson Fields, Hayes amassed his total yardage on only eight carries — that’s an average of 21.2 yards per carry — while striking paydirt on scoring scampers of 88 and 68 yards.

“That was a big game he had tonight,” said RHS coach Jerrod Baugh. “You try to recoup some of the things you lose when a big playmaker like Dyson has been for us, and you’re able to put the next game up in there and not lose anything the way Jordan did tonight was special.

“I don’t know if we expected it to happen quite so fast and the way it’s happened, but we knew he was going to be a good running back. We’ve known about it for a long time. He’s comfortable with what it is we do. And I think it’s a tribute to the things we do at the junior high level. Even though he’s a sophomore he’s been doing these things for years and years.”

The fact is he is part of the Ruston family, legacy — Bearcat bloodlines — couldn’t have hurt Hayes’ ability to jump right in and become a big factor for his team.

Hayes’ father Eric Robinson played some football for the Bearcats in the early 1990s, just as his uncle Victor Robinson had been.

But this Bearcat bloodline runs even deeper.

Eric’s and Victor’s uncle James Robinson was the Bearcats’ leading rusher in 1978 with more than 1,000 yards as a running back/linebacker despite playing only nine games that season.

And Hayes’ uncle Johnny Robinson was an All-State defensive end for the Bearcats in 1976 who became an All-Southland Conference performer for Louisiana Tech before becoming a fourth-round draft pick in 1981 by the NFL’s Raiders and playing in 27 games with 16 starts with one safety and a fumble recovery.

Johnny Robinson’s son Jonathan was a defensive lineman who played alongside current RHS defensive coordinator Kyle Williams for the Bearcats in the early 2000s.

Suffice it to say football season is a pretty big deal for Hayes and his family.

“I’ve heard so many stories about Ruston football growing up,” Hayes said. “It’s been great hearing all those stories about my family. My uncles and my ‘Pops’ — my dad — paved the way and everybody has kind of known this is what I was going to do because this is what I’ve heard so much about and want to do. I want to make them all proud, so it’s a great feeling.”

Hayes says the lessons he’s learned from family have helped him focus on success on the field and in the classroom.

“They all want me to be even better than they were,” Hayes said. “They want me to do things right and keep working hard. Just execute and take care of business every time. That’s my focus.”

Thanksgivings for Hayes and his family, needless to say, are centered around the gridiron.

“For my family, Thanksgiving is about football, because football is every day,” Hayes said. “Football is who we are and what we are. So Thanksgiving is every day for us this time of year, because football makes us thankful.”

Baugh admitted he didn’t realize Hayes’ Bearcat bloodlines ran so deep.

“You can tell he’s got some good genes,” Baugh said. “Since we started noticing him in the sixth grade at I.A. Lewis, he’s always been the fastest guy in his class. We’ve been looking forward to him getting up here to high school and he’s met the challenge we’ve thrown at him after Dyson got hurt and has done a great job.

“That’s only going to help us as we move down the road. 

Hayes said his impact is based on one major factor — speed.

“It’s my speed — my leg speed and my quick vision,” Hayes said. “I see a hole open up, hit it and try to use my speed to pull away. That’s what happened both times tonight. I reacted to the hole, and I was gone.”

Doing it in front of family for Homecoming was even better.

“It was a great feeling coming out here knowing that my family was here to support me, and to execute at a very high level, it was just great to do that and help my team win,” Hayes said.

And his performance made it a good Homecoming for Hayes’ family, too.

“I’ve been telling everybody for years that this young man is the real deal,” James Robinson said. “It’s in his bloodline. But this kid is special. He’s focused. He makes me very proud as a former Bearcats running back and as his uncle. He makes his whole family proud. 

“What he did tonight is what Homecoming is all about.”

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