Hayden football eager to start season
HAYDEN — While most 8-man football teams started the high school season last Friday, Hayden High School stayed home.
The Tigers will open the season Saturday, Sept. 7, on the road at Justice and boy, are they ready.
“They’re eager to get going. They’ve had enough practice,” head coach Matt Linsacum said. “They’re just ready to see where they’re at and where they stand.”
In his second year at the helm, Linsacum is coaching a young team headed by a few key seniors. The team will rely on the handful of experienced upperclassmen to lead the team, while the younger players step up and learn as quickly as possible.
Despite graduating, last year’s seniors are still helping by way of the legacy they left behind.
“I think our seniors left a big impact as far as work ethic and mentality and understanding that there is a lot that goes into it,” Linsacum said. “I hope that carries over into this team.”
The team lost Daylon Frentress and Justin Fry, who each earned an All-Conference nod. Also gone is Patrick Hunter, who earned an All-Conference honorable mention.
Sept. 7: at Justice, 1 p.m.
Sept. 13: vs. Simla, 7 p.m.
Sept. 20: at Gilpin, 7 p.m.
Sept. 27: vs. Plateau Valley, 7 p.m.
Oct. 4: at Vail Christian, 7 p.m.
Oct. 11: at Rangely, 7 p.m.
Oct. 18: vs. West Grand, 7 p.m.
Oct. 26: at Denver Christian, 1 p.m.
Nov. 1: vs. Soroco, 7 p.m.
Last year, Hayden went 3-6, going 1-5 against conference opponents. Linsacum hopes a better Northwest region record is in the future.
“I think it’s a building year for us. Four seniors kills us,” Linsacum said. “We lost six last year and have a couple not returning.”
Austin Day did not step back onto the gridiron this fall, leaving the Tigers to replace a 6 foot, 2 inches, 240-pound center and nose guard.
“It is what it is, and we just have to adjust,” Linsacum said.
The Tigers start the season against Justice, which they defeated 52-26 in the opener last fall, but senior quarterback Reese Kern is already looking ahead to Oct. 18 when Hayden hosts West Grand.
In order to succeed against such a team, Hayden has to step up and focus on a few things.
“We need to stay up, not keep our head down and get mad after a single play,” Kern said.
“Be physical,” senior running back Hunter Planansky added.
The Mustangs could be the toughest team Hayden faces this season, as they’re ranked No. 4 in the CHSAA preseason poll. Rangely, which hosts Hayden on Oct. 11, is ranked No. 9 in the same poll.
Junior receiver Liam Fentress and junior linebacker Wyatt Murphy are also returning this year and are expected to do big things. While Dylan Fentress was the go-to quarterback last fall, Kern has seen plenty of snaps over the last three years. Linsacum is confident he can run the offense.
Kern and Planansky said when it comes to leadership, they’re fairly quiet and lead by example but hope to become loud and make an impression on the field.
“We’re pretty good to be honest,” Kern said of the offense. “Our mesh is nice. We got everything down, but we’re still waiting for game time.”
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