By Ray Hamill — Arcata linebacker Hayden Santsche is in demand.
And he’s not alone.
Santsche, an inspirational leader at linebacker and tight end for the Tigers over the past two seasons, will definitely be taking his game to the collegiate level, the only question is where.
According to Arcata head coach Jamal Jones, Santsche appears likely to play at George Fox University, an NCAA Division-III school in Newberg, Oregon, although reigning community college state champion Riverside City College is now making a big late push for the Tigers senior.
“Riverside are pursuing him pretty hard right now,” Jones said. “They’re urging him to come down to visit (when he can) before he signs (with George Fox).”
If he opts to play in Oregon, he will become the second Arcata player to join the Northwest Conference this year, following in the footsteps of teammate Mateo Vincent, who is taking his talents to Linfield University, one of the top Division-III programs in the nation.
“To have the opportunity to play at those schools, that’s a big deal,” Jones said.
Like Santsche, Vincent was a starter for more than two years with the Tigers, winning the respect of his coaches and teammates with his consistently impressive play along the defensive line.
“He has a great work ethic,” Jones said. “He’s just a stud in the middle. He plays well inside, he plays well outside, and he’s a big strong kid. He’s probably the strongest kid in our program.”
Vincent, who is 5-foot-11, 215 pounds, was heavily recruited by the Wildcats, who want him to play middle linebacker.
“He’s a freak,” Jones said. “He did a lot of good things for us.
“He’s just a ruthless kid, and he’s going to a traditional powerhouse. Linfield is as legitimate a D-III program as you can get in this country.”
George Fox also has heavily pursued Santsche.
“They like his versatility,” Jones said of the senior, who has had interest from several schools. “Hunter is that prototypical player in our program. He just grounded it out.”
Linfield was 8-2 overall in 2019, including a 7-0 mark in conference play, while George Fox finished 5-5 and 4-3.
Both Santsche and Vincent are three year varsity players for the Tigers, with each winning a starting role in their sophomore seasons.
Eureka’s Cruz Montana also competes in the Northwest Conference, playing quarterback at Lewis & Clark.
Another Arcata senior, Maximus Rice, also is taking his game to the collegiate level, announcing earlier in the year he will play at Division-III Azusa Pacific in the fall.