Hayden football blanked by Vail Christian in season finale
Hayden — A gutsy defensive performance by Hayden High School football couldn’t yield the Tigers a win in the season finale against playoff-eligible Vail Christian.
After navigating through a competitive league schedule with numerous injuries to key senior starters, Hayden fell victim to its fourth straight loss Friday night, a 20-0 blanking by the Saints.
The win for Vail Christian vaulted the Saints to a 5-1 record and an almost certain playoff berth. Hayden’s loss sank the Tigers to 2-5 and a winless conference record.
Forced to play starting running back Greg Frentress solely on defense because of injury and inserting two freshmen offensive linemen, Tigers coach Shawn Baumgartner thanked his group following the game for their courageous effort.
“Our kids stepped up, they filled in and just did different things throughout the year,” Baumgartner said. “The guts those kids had, that’s not something you always get.”
The Tigers clawed their way to just a 6-0 deficit going into halftime in large part because of several defensive stands on third down and a secondary that gave up just two completions all night.
But a smattering of costly penalties, punts and untimely turnovers — three of them — caved in what little offensive output Hayden could muster. The Tigers finished with just 98 yards of total offense on 43 plays.
“It was tough. Up front, we started Bryan Muhme as a freshman at center,” Baumgartner said. “He hasn’t played center since third grade. We moved him to center this week. Christian Carson, our right guard, he’s a freshman, too.”
The offensive woes almost were overshadowed by a Tigers defense that, despite giving up 284 yards on 58 Saints plays, forced a few three-and-outs and one crucial goal-line stand in the second half.
But a steady dose of Vail Christian quarterback Branden Currey and running back Ethan Ellsworth in the read option game did Hayden in during the final two quarters. Currey punched in the Saints’ first two touchdowns on 30- and 6-yard runs. Currey finished with a game-high 111 yards on 18 carries.
And with time winding down to seconds in the game — and Hayden’s season — Saints running back Mike Lange put the nail in the coffin with a 7-yard scoring run, sealing the Tigers’ only shutout loss this season, 20-0.
Tears and hugs between Hayden’s five seniors ensued.
“We may not have won a whole lot of games, but we sure played with a lot of heart,” Frentress said.
Senior Dan Engle also returned for the Tigers after missing three games because of injury. Engle finished with 32 yards on 10 carries and three catches for 15 yards in his high school finale.
“The effort and the attitude and guts our kids showed tonight, I love to be a part of this team,” Baumgartner said.
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