MOSES LAKE — Some idle chatter emanated from the sideline during Moses Lake’s practice.
“Kyler catches everything.”
As if on cue, Kyler Haneberg ran an out route and snagged the ball to convert a third-and-long drill right in front of his admirers.
Haneberg has become the go-to receiver in Moses Lake’s offense. The 6-foot-1 senior is second in the Columbia Basin Big Nine with 517 yards and tied for the league lead with six touchdown receptions.
Haneberg was not on the leaderboard in 2016.
“I wanted to get a better chemistry with Brandon (Griffith),” he said. “Last year I was hurt most of the offseason. I had a broken foot, wasn’t able to do the spring practices, didn’t go to camp. But then once we went to (a later) camp and everything we worked after practice, we spent extra time together that way we could form a little chemistry and it’s really showed on the field, I think, with both of us.”
Haneberg and Griffith showcased their connection early in the season.
The duo connected on a 73-yard touchdown against Hanford. In the CBBN opener against Eastmont, Haneberg caught all three of Griffith’s touchdown passes.
Thin at receiver in recent weeks, Griffith moved back to the position he played as a sophomore and Dominic Signorelli entered as quarterback.
Haneberg didn’t miss a beat, catching an 11-yard touchdown against Eisenhower and a 45-yard bomb against Davis.
“I have a good friendship with Sig and he knows when to give me the ball and knows how to give me the ball and just the chemistry I have with these guys is amazing and they know everything on the field and off the field,” Haneberg said.
Adaptability is a trait Haneberg has had to develop this season.
Aside from the quarterback switch, all-league receiver Gio Walker broke his foot in the second game of the season. Slot receiver BJ Mullin has also missed time due to injury.
All the while, Haneberg continues to put up numbers.
“It’s something I didn’t know I had until this year,” he said. “With all of the injuries, especially with Gio, I was expecting him to play the whole year, not expecting to be in the spot where I am.
“But it’s definitely a strength I have that I didn’t know I had before and it’s something I’m proud of with the flexibility and everything else and then everyone else stepping up and not making me have to get the ball every time — the other wide receivers like (Nick) Berg and Dalenh (Anderson) and even (Kyle) Karstetter coming in and making some plays. That way it’s not all the pressure on me.”
At his current pace, Haneberg is projected to finish with 775 receiving yards and 44 receptions in nine games.
That would be the most since Nick Sutherland recorded 627 yards in 2013.
Isaiah Thomas won Offensive Player of the Year in 2015 with 542 receiving yards and 13 total touchdowns.
“We have meetings in the winter and that’s one of the things (head coach Todd) Griffith wanted for me was to be number one, to be the number one receiver, to be maybe even the MVP of the league and we talked about that and we wrote it down,” Haneberg said. “I took a picture of it. It was on my screen-saver all of June — until I switched it back to my girlfriend — and it was up there so I saw it every single day.
“I had it on my mirror so that way I could see it every single day and that way I knew what I wanted, I knew what the coaches wanted, I knew what the team wanted and that way I could work hard to get it.”