Rajahs Football: Discipline, Defense, and Coach Daniel Hayes

Talialaina Letoi

The Indio Rajahs are looking to hit the ground running this year behind Head Coach Daniel ‘Zero’ Hayes. The Rajahs are well known for their grit and discipline, and that’s exactly what they’re going to continue this season.

“We’re bringing that culture back. Everything’s been rocking and rolling, guys look good, they feel good. I feel good coaches feel good, everybody’s confident.”

Coach Hayes says while his team always puts in the work, the confidence is mounting across the board.

“We’re bringing back a lot of experience, we had a bunch of returning starters — especially on the defensive side — which is gonna be huge for us. Our defense carried us majority of last year. So now, the offense is starting to kind of help out so you know, we’re super excited about it.”

The military veteran has instilled a work ethic that is recognized across the Coachella Valley. But Coach Hayes admits it starts from the top.

“I have to make sure I’m staying focused. I’m pretty structured, pretty disciplined. So you know, it just makes sure those guys stay with those characteristics as well.”

A number of players are follow his lead, like Elijah Gutierrez.

“I think if you ever structure team and you have a good coach to lead us, I think if we’re structured, we’re going to be fine. And just us this year, we’re going to come out dominant. I feel like this team that we have right now, from the receivers, our defense… we’re gonna make it turn this year.

Coach Hayes even has some new faces rocking some new threads this year. All just ready to put in the work with him.

Jeremiah Cuahey, a transfer from Coachella Valley, commends the efforts he’s seen from Hayes– not just as a leader but a human being as well.

“He’s a good dude. He’s actually a good man. Like, he tells us like, right from wrong, be respectful and everything. He knows what he’s about. And when he talks, you know it’s true, so I mean, that caught my attention and everything man. Just that alone, that guy’s a good coach, you know?”

Abraham Acuna, another transfer, says Coach Hayes’ reputation here in the desert precedes himself.

“I’ve always heard about Coach Yeah, he’s a good coach. The coaches help you a lot. They’re really they’re not the discipline but they won’t yell at you. If you get anything wrong, they’re just sit down with your and show you what to do film or just on the field to show you what to do.”

But the culture overall makes everyone want to do their absolute best day in and day out.

Acuna on his goals this year says, “Now it’s my first year as DB. I switched positions from last year when I was linebacker. But this year I’m also running back, so  you know, hopefully, [I’ll be] scoring a lot or having a lot of shutdowns on defense. Just want to being a better player and help the team out with anything I do.”

Coach Hayes says the team has bought in and have their eyes set on the mission. But it’s all about taking it one game at a time. Meanwhile, it’s much more than just a team and a goal — for some, it’s family.

“Being a brotherhood of a team, all of us are connected really well. Our structure and a good culture, you know,” says Gutierrez.

But first things first.

“Well that Mayors Cup — of course. Thats kind of just where we’re at, so we’re going to do whatever we gotta do to get that Mayors Cup here,” says Coach Hayes.

Indio hit the road to Shadow Hills for the Mayors Cup Friday, August 18th.

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