Hayden football comes up empty in season opener
Hayden Football Schedule
Sept. 5 vs. Merino, 58-0 L
Sept. 12 at Dayspring Christian (Greeley), 1 p.m.
Sept. 26 at Justice (Boulder), 2 p.m.
Oct. 2 at Rangely, 7 p.m.
Oct. 9 vs. West Grand, 7 p.m.
Oct. 16 vs. Plateau Valley, 7 p.m.
Oct. 24 at Norwood, 1 p.m.
Oct. 30 vs. Soroco, 7 p.m.
Hayden — First-year Hayden High School head football coach Ryan Wilkie’s message to his team after Saturday’s season opener was similar to the message he had at halftime, when the Tigers trailed by five scores.
“Just stick with what we believe in, and that’s discipline and being accountable,” Wilkie said. “Those are the things we are going to fall back on, and it’s a tough road, but we look to improve.”
The second half of Saturday’s 8-man season opener against visiting Merino High School was short and sweet, with a continuous clock, but that likely did little to take away the bitter taste of Hayden’s 58-0 loss. Last season, Merino beat Hayden 59-6 in the season opener.
“There is not enough depth right now,” Wilkie said. “When practice started Aug. 17, we didn’t have a couple key guys, and it showed today.”
After a series of sloppy possessions from both teams to start the game, Merino broke the ice with a 22-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Remington Canfield to senior Logan Redabaugh midway through the first quarter.
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The Tigers had Merino held to a fourth-and-7 on their next possession, but a 40-yard touchdown pass from Canfield to junior Dylan Clifford took the momentum away from the defense.
An interception by Hayden senior quarterback Garrett Camilletti set up Merino for a one-play touchdown drive, a 10-yard run by Canfield, to make it 20-0. The Rams added a 7-yard score by Canfield and another TD pass from Canfield to Clifford, this time from 64 yards, to send Hayden to the half down 36-0.
“The effort was decent. We were close to making a lot of plays we didn’t make,” Wilkie said. “We really feel like we gave up 24 points that put us behind the eight ball right away, and it was tough to recover. But we saw some positive signs.”
Clifford scored on a 60-yard run on the first play of the second half to push Merino past the 40-point barrier and enact the running clock. The Rams added a pair of short TD passes in the fourth quarter to reach the final 58-0 margin.
Merino outgained Hayden 366 to 47 yards in total offense. The Tigers were held without a completed pass and only one first down, which came on an 18-yard run late in the first half by senior Judd Magee.
Canfield finished with 165 yards passing and six total touchdowns. Clifford led all players in both rushing (106 yards on 13 carries) and receiving (two catches for 104 yards).
“We are going to get better every week,” Wilkie said, “but we are a real young football team right now, so it’s happening fast, and it’s going to be a fast feet-in-the-fire process for them. Next week, we should get a little better up front and get some guys back that should help us.”
Hayden (0-1) will travel to Greeley next Saturday to play Dayspring Christian, which is 1-0 after a 64-6 win over Custer County on Saturday.
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