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‘Future captain’ Hayden Sargis provides proof of concept for Sacramento Republic academy

Teenage defender looks like he has a bright future after debut campaign.

Courtesy of Republic FC.

Hayden Sargis emerged as one of Sacramento Republic FC’s top players in 2020. And his visibility may continue to grow with his game.

The 18-year-old, voted Indomitable City Soccer’s Sac Republic Defender of the Year by the readers, led Sac Republic in minutes played in 2020 and was more or less a fixture at central defense, a notoriously tough position for youngsters to break through.

The Sacramento Republic academy product signed his pro deal in the offseason and his contributions, along with those of Mario Penagos, Julian Chavez and Rafael Jauregui, show the first fruits of the work done to create a pathway for local players.

“We’ve produced a lot of good players and now you see those players step on the field and make serious impacts for the club,” Sac Republic general manager Todd Dunivant told reporters during the club’s end-of-season availability last week. “That’s what it’s all about. That’s why we have the academy, so those elite top players can have a pathway through.”

With Sargis playing so often for head coach Mark Briggs this year, he seems like a young professional who could garner interest abroad if things go well. But Briggs praised the teenager and said he expects the player to gain a bigger role with Sac Republic in the future.

“I think there’s so many words being said about Hayden, and I think the most praise that you can give him is he is a future captain of this football club,” Briggs said at the same event. “The way he carries himself, his maturity, you see on the field and off the field, he does things. His plays in games, his pass selection, even his communication, it’s of somebody who has a lot more experience than what Hayden does.”

Dunivant credited the oldest player on the roster, Dekel Keinan, for mentoring Sargis and other youngsters this season.

“I’ll give a shoutout to Dekel [Keinan], who is an experienced player with the club, and the help he gave to our young players, not just Hayden Sargis but certainly particularly with Hayden, being in the same position, learning from someone who’s played in the English Premier League, who’s been around the game for so long, that is part of development, too,” he said.

While promising prospects sometimes get better and better, with no adversity in their careers, Briggs cautioned Sargis’ next task is to keep working so he can build upon a sparkling debut campaign.

“The sky’s the limit for Hayden, but it’s all in Hayden’s hands now,” Briggs said. “He’s a pro and once you make that step into the pro ranks, it’s hard to get there — it’s even harder to stay there. Hayden knows that, Hayden understands that. We know that and we understand that, and he’s going to continue to work, continue to grow and continue to get better. I think he just has to keep playing, he has to do what he’s done this year, carry on with those performances and let the rest take care of itself.

“I’m extremely pleased with Hayden, extremely proud of Hayden, and ready for him to continue with his development and his growth,” he added.

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