High School Football

Rising Sun Haueter making a splash

Editor's note: This is the fifth in a series of seven feature stories on CBBN 3A-4A Tri-City football players that will kick off the 2011 high school season. The Tri-City Herald will present one story a day until its prep football preview Friday.

KENNEWICK -- Recently, Southridge's Tony Reiboldt kept looking at the film of last year's game against Wenatchee, and something became clear to the second-year head coach and his staff.

"We were just looking at how effective Chris Haueter ran the ball," Reiboldt said.

Somewhere during the 2010 high school football season, that fact got lost, Reiboldt admits.

"Our offense kind of metamorphasized," he said. "We really turned into more of a passing team by Week 5. By Week 5, it was evident we had a quarterback (Matt Mendenhall) who could sling the ball all over the field. So we went more to the air at that time."

While Mendenhall was tops among CBBN 3A quarterbacks in passing yardage with 2,602, he had just 14 TD passes to 10 interceptions, and the Suns finished the season at 4-6.

In order to be more effective this season -- and taking some of the defensive pressure off of Mendenhall -- Reiboldt wants the Suns offense to be more balanced.

"It's hard to defend a team that can run and throw it," Reiboldt said. "I think we're going to be a team that uses the pass to set up the run. Matt's skills at quarterback are strong, and our receiving corps is coming along. I think you'll see Chris touch the ball at least 20 to 25 times a game this season, whether he's running the ball or catching it."

Mendenhall is on board.

"I'd definitely like to see a little more balance," he said. "It's not always so predictable. Chris is really important to us because he runs the ball really hard, he stretches the field when he runs the ball outside. He's one of our hardest workers."

Haueter's reaction? Let's do it.

"I think I could have been more effective last season if I had more chances," Haueter said. "Our first game, I got the ball a bit and got two scores."

The 5-foot-11, 170-pound senior had respectable stats as a junior:

* He averaged 22.2 yards over 20 kickoff returns;

* He finished 13th in the conference in rushing with 357 yards;

* He found the end zone eight times;

* And he was eighth in total yards with 1,037.

Reiboldt has told him to get used to being on the field for most of the game.

"He's been working his tail off because he knows he's not coming off the field much," Reiboldt said. "He also plays outside linebacker for us. His explosive speed off the edge brings a dimension to the defense."

It's also something Haueter enjoys.

"I'm not like a real big hitter, but making a (quarterback) sack is a lot of fun," he said.

About the only thing he doesn't do is play on the kickoff team.

"And I don't return punts. I kick return though," he said.

He's also one of two punters on the team.

Haueter is also busy off the football field.

He carries a 3.3 grade point average. He's a snowboarding nut who tries to hit the slopes of Bluewood as much as possible in the winter. He competes in track. And he's service-oriented.

"I'm part of the Latter Day Saints church and we're always doing service for people," he said. "I'll go to school for a year, like BYU-Idaho, then go on a mission."

Until then, Haueter is on another mission.

"One of our biggest goals is to come back from last year," he said. "Nobody expects anything from us."

But this is why he loves football.

"I can show my talents on the field," he said. "It takes thinking and instinct, and it's just fun. You make a big play, it makes you feel accomplished."

Reiboldt loves him for more than just football.

"He's one heck of a football player," Reiboldt said. "I have two daughters, but I told my wife if I had a son I'd want him to be like Chris Haueter. He's a natural leader. He's a great citizen. Off the football field he's just outstanding."

And on the field?

"If I could have 11 Chris Haueters, we'd do OK."