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After two years at Hollister, linebacker Hale happy to be part of Nixa 'family' again

NIXA'S COLTON HALE, wearing jersey number 34, poses for photos with his Eagles teammates in celebration of their Class 6 District 5 championship.
NIXA'S COLTON HALE, wearing jersey number 34, poses for photos with his Eagles teammates in celebration of their Class 6 District 5 championship.

Colton Hale is ending his prep career where it began at Nixa. But in between his freshman and senior seasons, he spent two years at Hollister.

Hale is having a heck of a time being an Eagle again. He's fresh from a career-high five tackles, to go along with a fumble recovery, in last week’s win versus Joplin.

“I'm glad it worked out the way it did and I got the opportunity to come back,” the senior linebacker said. “There's nothing that replaces the family here. (At Hollister), I had a couple buddies on the team. But here, it's one whole family and I feel like I'm part of the family.”

Hale transferred to Hollister at the start of his sophomore season to play for Tigers coach Mike Johnson. Hale’s father, Justin, and Johnson were friends from their time together in Colorado.

Colton was able to gain varsity experience sooner at Hollister than he likely would have at Nixa. He started two seasons at linebacker for the Tigers and also played at running back.

Upon returning to Nixa, Hale knew he would have to adjust from playing Class 3 football to Class 6 ball.

“The speed of the game is nothing like it is here,” he sad. “It's a faster game. When I came back, I had a little awakening. I think I got through it pretty well, but then I got hurt.”

Hale endured a high ankle sprain and a low ankle sprain. He was sidelined the first three weeks and again in Week Five.

“I tried to do everything I could to get back for the first game, but hurt it again. I knew I had to take some games off,” Hale said “I got it recovered about 90 percent and came back against Branson (in Week Four) to test it out. But a Branson guy landed on it wrong and it was injured again.”

Hale’s first significant playing time came in Nixa’s back-to-back games against Ozark. Over the two games, he had six tackles, including a TFL

Injuries to starting linebacker Anthony Ramey and backup Zane Stewart cleared the way for Hale to play the majority of the night against Joplin.

“(The coaches) have been waiting on me to get fully healthy and it’s been a fight to get my spot back,” Hale said. “My ankle is finally fully healthy. I got my opportunity and gave it all I had.”

Hale had three solo stops against Joplin. He was in the spotlight after coming up with the ball when Joplin botched a catch on a Nixa pooch kick.

“Me and (teammate Eli Frazier) were both tugging on the ball,” Hale said. “I was telling Eli, ‘Gimme me it, gimme it.’ He pulled the (Joplin) guys off of it and I came up with it.”

Hale's return to Nixa also allowed him to be reunited with running back Malachi Rider and defensive end Jayden Antonelli. The three are longtime friends, having grown up together in southwest Colorado.

Rider was thrilled to see Hale rewarded for his efforts.

“The kid has heart and he's so competitive. He's the most competitive kid I know,” Rider said. “I was happy to see him make tackles. I'm super proud of him.”