Hayden takes on Rangley | SteamboatToday.com

Hayden takes on Rangley

Push for playoffs begins today

Luke Graham

— From here on out, all of Hayden High School’s football games are must-win.

The Tigers are in fourth place in the league standings with games against Rangely (7 p.m. today at Rangely) and Meeker (at home next week) remaining on the schedule.

Although only two league teams are guaranteed a spot in the playoffs, if Hayden finishes its season with two wins, the Tigers most likely would get one of the four at-large wild card spots.

“Our guys know the importance of these last two games,” said coach Shaun Baumgartner, who has had a busy week of practice and celebrating the birth of a child. “They have to realize that loss was last week. This is an important game. It’s the biggest game of the season.”

Rangely (2-5 overall, 0-4 in league play) is a team full of playmakers, Baumgartner said. At the top of that list is Tim Wills, a three-year starter at running back.

“Just watching film, (Willis) is real shifty and real quick,” Baumgartner said.

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While Hayden (5-2, 2-2) suffered league losses to West Grand and Grand Valley, Baumgartner said the team is yet to show its potential.

“We’ve had three quarters there, a half here or a big series here,” Baumgartner said. “Offensively we’ve really concentrated and focused on having a big game. We know we can put points on the board, and it will come sooner or later.”

On defense, Baumgartner said he’s been pleased with the Tigers’ effort. The Hayden defense is giving up only 7 points a game, including three shutouts.

“The defense did play well,” he said. “We gave up two big plays in the first half (against Grand Valley) and shut them out in the second half. Hopefully, we can use that momentum. Even though it wasn’t a win, hopefully we can use that as a springboard.”

A Hayden win today likely would set up a playoff-deciding game next Friday against Meeker. Meeker – currently third in the league standings – has one more league win than Hayden.

“When you get toward the end of the season, things figure themselves out,” Baumgartner said. “Every game we have to play hard. This week is just like the rest. We need to execute.”