Frontier grad Jonathan Haynes returns to football with the Hornets. Photo by Jake French Photography.
Jonathan Haynes wanted a reason to put the pads back on. He wanted a reason to get back on a football field, and do what he loves to do. The Hamburg Hornets gave him that opportunity and now the 2010 Hamburg High School graduate is thriving.
The Hornets are a first-year semi pro football team consisting of many players from the Hamburg area, including Haynes, who is the team’s starting safety while also seeing time at receiver and running back. He currently leads the team with 37 tackles while also racking up 10 pass deflections and two forced fumbles.
“I pretty much didn’t know what to expect,” Haynes said on joining the Hornets. “Basically playing against kids who I have been rivals with. It’s kind of a different atmosphere. You’re playing with a bunch of people you’ve played against or played with in different little leagues and its definitely cool because you make new teammate and new friends. It’s just overall a great experience.”
Haynes is a team captain and a leader for the Hornets this season. Often the first one to practice and the last one to leave, Haynes is constantly pushing his teammates and himself to the highest level to continue to get better.
“He’s been a dedicated person to the team since January and he’s a team captain and a team leader,” said Hornets head coach and player Brandon Perry.
In the Hornets’ most recent game against Monroe County Sting, Haynes recorded eight tackles, including three for a loss while breaking up two passes and forcing a fumble after being moved to linebacker just before opening kickoff.
At just 5-foot-9 and 160 pounds, Haynes still likes to throw his weight around. Hornets head coach and player Brandon Perry let his leading tackler know before the team’s last game, of his desire to try him at outside linebacker because of his speed and ability to rush the quarterback. At first, Haynes was skeptical, but as the game went on, he became more comfortable and started to really enjoy the new spot on the field.
“At first I looked at him like ‘are you serious?” Haynes said. “Coach said I’m really fast and most of the time I’d be blitzing. He said I could probably do a good job. When I got in the game, I had three tackles for a loss and that was pretty sweet. It made me feel pretty great.”
After graduating from Hamburg, Haynes went on to earn his Associates Degree from Erie Community College. He is currently working towards his Bachelor’s Degree in mathematics at Buffalo State College.
On the field for the Bulldogs, Haynes earned Second-Team All Division honors as a senior while playing for a defense that forced a record number of turnovers in a season. The highlight of his senior season was defeating Williamsville South and current University at Buffalo starting quarterback Joe Licata with a goal line stand to end the game.
Football hasn’t always come easy for Haynes. He never played little loop and didn’t start playing competitively until the seventh grade. He spent many of his first few seasons as a second and third string player before finally getting his chance as a junior to start. He never gave that starting role up.
“I always was the backup. Always second or third on the depth chart,” Haynes said. “I basically worked my butt off in the scrimmages before the season started, the coaches looked at the tapes, they saw me and gave me a shot in practice. I proved to them and the motivation that the players and coaches game me of how good of a job I was doing kind of surprised me. It was a lot better that I thought it was.”
The Hornets are still searching for their first win of the season but are beginning to come together and gel. This first year has been difficult for everyone involved, but team chemistry is growing and on-field performance is improving.
“We’ve had our ups and downs and our goods and bads but I think overall we’re starting to come together,” said Perry. “Everyone is having a good time. They’re starting to play well together and it’s starting to get noticed throughout the community.”