The former Falcon takes the helm in football

by: JOHN DENNY - Aaron Hazel, who graduated from La Salle in 1999, has returned to his alma mater to coach football and teach math and physical education.MILWAUKIE — La Salle Prep has hired Aaron Hazel to replace Tim Bowman as head coach in football.

A 1999 graduate of La Salle, Hazel comes to La Salle from Vancouver’s Skyview High School, where he has taught and coached for the past nine years.

Hazel will join the teaching staff at La Salle, as a physical education and mathematics teacher.

Hazel described how he feels about returning to La Salle as an employee, “I am ecstatic to have the opportunity to go back home and play an integral role in the Lasallian community. I cannot say enough about the role that the La Salle faculty and staff had on me while I was a student. I hope that I can provide the same leadership and direction that I received.”

Hazel competed as a three-sport athlete in high school. He attended Clackamas Community College one year and played baseball before transferring to Eastern Oregon University, where he played quarterback for the Mountaineers from 2001-2003.

Hazel has a bachelor of science degree in health and physical education, with a math minor. He earned his master of arts degree in education from Concordia University.

Hazel played football under storied head coach Ray Baker at La Salle, playing wide receiver and splitting the quarterback role with Baker’s son, Brigham Baker. The Falcons went 6-3 Hazel’s senior year.

“One of the things I learned from Ray Baker was you have to give kids playing time, make kids feel part of the program and reward them for their hard work,” said Hazel. “I believe in starting 22 guys. I may play some kids both ways, but I plan on starting 22 guys.”

Hazel encourages athletes playing other sports to come out and give football a try.

Hazel has been a part of a tremendously successful program at Skyview, serving as quarterback and linebacker coach, and, the past two seasons, as offensive coordinator.

“We’ve made the playoffs the last nine years,” said Hazel. “At one point we won four league titles in a row and, in 2011, we lost in the [state championship] final.”

Skyview, with an enrollment of around 2,000 students, competes at the 4A level, the highest competitive level in Washington high school athletics.

La Salle’s Director of Athletics Glenn Elliott said, “Aaron brings so much to our program at La Salle. His great people and communication skills, his outstanding teaching preparation and background, along with his experience as a multiple-sport athlete, all add to his football skill-set and organization. His zeal and Christian faith to be back as a Falcon is the icing on the cake for the school.”

“I am excited to work with the entire Lasallian community, building a football program that everyone can be proud of,” Hazel said. “I look forward to seeing a large alumni section on Sept. 5 as we take on Milwaukie in La Salle’s first game in the [Class 5A] Northwest Oregon Conference.”

The La Salle alumnus said of his main goals as head football coach: “Of course, I’d like us to be competitive. But more than that, my ultimate goal is to develop a program that the kids can be proud to be a part of....”

Hazel said last Friday that he is still assembling his coaching staff.

Tim Bowman coached at La Salle for three-plus seasons, with his teams earning a 30-13 record, winning the Class 4A state championship in 2011 and Tri-Valley Conference league championships in 2011 and 2012. His teams went 6-4 in 2010, 14-0 in 2011 and 8-3 in 2012. La Salle’s record was 2-6 (1-3 in league) last fall, when Bowman was let go for unspecified reasons. La Salle finished last season with a record of 2-7.

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