The Cougars made it back to the Division II, Region 7 playoffs after a two-year absence, and much of the credit for that run belongs to the 5-11, 215-pound Hale, a two-way star.

Hale finished with 1,300 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns. A first-team all-district running back, Hale also was the team's top linebacker for a defense which gave up just 32 points during the regular season.

The Cougars lost to Marion-Franklin 34-28 in double overtime in a regional quarterfinal Oct. 31 to finish 9-2 overall.

"I definitely think he belongs as one of the best high school football players in the area," coach Tom Dunlap said. "Asa middle linebacker and running back, you're not only running but you're striking people and being struck. Without him, we're not where we ended up."