Hayden football coach wants his players to ‘trust the process’

The Hayden football team runs out onto the field ahead of a game against Vail Christian in 2021. The Tigers return to the football field for the season opener at Plateau Valley on Saturday, Sept. 3.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today

With seven returning seniors on the roster, the Hayden football team sees a clear path to a successful season in 2022.

The team has an advantage this year because it doesn’t have to develop the players on varsity and can get straight into taking things to the next level. This gives the coaches a chance to simultaneously prepare the younger players for the coming varsity seasons. 

Coach Matt Linsacum said this preseason has been night and day in comparison to last year, during which the team had no seniors and had to get everyone up to varsity speed.

“My thing is, ‘trust the process,’” Linsacum said. “We’ve been working our kids hard, and they’re beat up right now as far as being tired, and trust the process to me is just understanding that everyone’s got a role and everything we do is hopefully gonna get us to that playoff position.”

Outside of the returning players, the program interest has grown quite a bit with as many as 10 juniors being part of the team, which is uncommon in eight-man football.

Hayden has mostly seen around five or six players per class on the roster, but the higher numbers will help create a true depth chart to offer more backup options for all position players. 

Despite a winning season last year, the Tigers’ 5-3 record was not enough to make the playoffs. The team decided to set that benchmark as one of its biggest goals for this season.

Injuries had major implications toward the end of last year with the team losing several major weapons on offense and taking two tough losses in the back half of the schedule.

“Our mission this year is to stay healthy, keep those eight kids that are our starters and try to keep them healthy,” Linsacum said. “If we do that, I think we can have a good year and have a real shot at playoffs and hopefully make it through a couple rounds of the playoffs.”

Get the area’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning. Sign up here:

Having coached for eight seasons, Linsacum has never seen his team make the playoffs. He’s hoping his work with the players in the preseason will give them the extra push they need to overcome any speed bumps they may encounter.

Linsacum explained there will be moments in practices where his players will have a tough time with conditioning, or coaches may offer constructive criticisms, but he wants them to understand the process. 

He added that he wants the Tigers to see what it takes for the team to “fire on all cylinders” and get to the high level of performance the coaches expect of them.

The Tigers kick off the season on the road at Plateau Valley at 1p.m. Saturday, Sept. 3. This league game will be a great opportunity for the team to measure themselves and set the tone for league play in 2022. 

“We’re not focusing on the things that are negative or hard, just trust the process,” Linsacum said. “We’re all headed in the same direction. We all have the same common goal. Everyone’s gonna do what they have to do to get to that position.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.