Thursday, Nov. 27, 2008 | midnight
Prep Sports Now podcast
Las Vegas High senior Madison Hales already has a state championship ring – kind of.
The offensive lineman was sent in for a few series during the Wildcats' 33-6 win over Galena for the 2006 state title. Instead of feeling satisfied with the ring from that year, Hales uses it as a reminder of what he's trying to earn for himself as a starter.
"I basically just rode on the coattails of the juniors and seniors that year," Hales said. "I'm grateful for that. But I'm ready to earn my own ring."
Even without the ring, Hales would never forget what he's out to accomplish. Not in his family. His father, Mike, coached in the Las Vegas football program for 13 years, a stretch that lasted until this season.
He has a younger brother, Johnathan, a junior on the team this year. He also has two older brothers who have played at Las Vegas. David won a state title for the Wildcats in 2001 and Jacob went on to UNLV where he just finished his senior season. Just like Madison, none of them feel satisfied with the first title.
"If you've got four brothers together you know we're going to be picking on each other a little bit," Jacob said. "Even though he won a state championship he was obviously younger and not completely responsible for it so we give him a hard time."
Mike has been around to see plenty of the grief Madison's brothers give him for not being a starter during the title run.
"His brothers always remind him that he's got to be an intricate part of the team if he wants to count it," Mike said. "It's great to be on a state championship team, but it means a lot more to you when you know you helped your team earn it. I know he wants to fulfill that dream, he's had it since he was a kid."
Five years old actually, is when Madison first remembers going to football practices with his dad. Mike remembers watching him go into the weight room and mimic what he had seen his older brothers do.
"He'd be in there trying to lift those weights and obviously he wasn't strong enough to do it yet," Mike said. "He couldn't wait for his opportunity though. All of [my sons] have loved the game and they've all been different players. Madison has probably been the hardest worker."
Whether it's the teasing of his older brothers or the love of the game he found as a kid, it's no question that Madison works harder at football than most of those around him.
"He's the kind of kid where if you were going to have everybody in your program be like, he would be the guy," said Wildcats coach Chris Faircloth. "He's a tireless worker. He's just a great kid to be around, ideal teammate, and if we could take a picture of a Las Vegas Wildcat it would be him."
The Wildcats will need another big effort from Madison and the rest of the team as they take on undefeated Palo Verde in the state semifinals Saturday. As a player who waited so long for his chance to take the field, Madison feels ready to go out and get a second ring.
"It's been phenomenal for me to be a part of this program after seeing so many players come and go," he said. "[David] always gives me crap. He always says, 'Yeah, you're OK and everything, but you're not as good as me until you win a state title.' It's motivated me to go do it this year."
Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or firstname.lastname@example.org.