Airline QB’s family inspires him to excel on and off the field
For Airline High School senior quarterback Hayden Hildebrand, faith and family has been a winning combination.
Hildebrand has guided his team to a share of the district title and the playoffs this season, but his career has not always been easy.
In fact, after a bad experience playing football in Minden while in elementary school, he almost gave up the sport.
He started playing football while in the second grade in Minden. Then his family moved to Bossier City.
“When we moved over here, I had no intention of playing football,” Hildebrand said. “We moved here because we thought the schools and the situation would be better over here.”
He credits his parents — Bryan and Carla — for encouraging him to get back involved in sports in Bossier City.
“Dad is a big-time baseball, football and basketball fan,” Hildebrand said. “Mom has always stood behind Dad. They pushed me to go outside, to go to the gym and were always pushing me to do better.”
Responding to adversity is key to being an effective quarterback.
“I always bounce back, praying to God to keep calm,” Hildebrand said. “Keeping calm and being a leader is important for a quarterback. You need to keep your composure and set a good example for the team.”
Coach Bo Meeks said he has seen a lot of growth in terms of Hildebrand handling adversity.
“Compared to last year, he’s a lot more patient which in turn has made us a lot better,” Meeks said.
Undergoing a coaching change is another challenge Hildebrand and many of his teammates have faced. For a quarterback in particular, a coaching change and a change is the offensive scheme can often be unsettling. But, Hildebrand handled the transition well and has become the most productive quarterback in Bossier Parish and one of the best in the state.
He said he respected both his previous coach and Coach Meeks, who is in his second year at Airline. Learning the new offense last season was not easy but only took a few weeks.
“Once me and Coach got on the same page, good things started happening,” Hildebrand said.
That included a playoff win last season which so far is his favorite memory, but which he would like to replace with a string of playoff wins and ideally a state title this season.
For the regular season, Hildebrand completed 155 of 250 passes for 2,383 yards and 22 touchdowns with only six interceptions for the 8-2 Vikings. He is also an effective scrambler when he needs to be.
The most difficult part of his position, Hildebrand said, is “probably seeing the different coverages and trying to see the same things Coach Meeks sees.”
Looking back over his career, Hildebrand has no regrets.
“I wouldn’t change any of it,” Hildebrand said.
But as one Hildebrand prepares to leave Airline High School, another will soon enter.
Younger brother Noah is the quarterback at Greenacres Middle School and will be at Airline High School next fall.
Having a brother who plays the same position at a school down the street always makes for inevitable comparisons.
“He kids me a bit about being in the newspaper and he’s not so much, but I tell him his time will come,” Hildebrand said.
For the family, the good thing is the middle school games are Tuesdays and the high school games are typically on Fridays.
“I’ve been to everyone of his games this season,” Hildebrand said. “It’s nice to be able to just watch football games for a change.”