Hayden football sees progress in loss to Plateau Valley
Hayden — There are more ways to determine progress on the field than the score alone, which is fortunate for the Hayden High School football team. Despite another lopsided scoreboard Friday against Plateau Valley, Tiger coach Ryan Wilkie feels his squad is bounds ahead of where it was at the beginning of the season.
“Our youth still shows, but we are getting better,” Wilkie said. “We are not seeing it on the scoreboard, but what they are doing and the way they never quit are things they weren’t doing before. So I’m proud of that.”
Hayden, now 1-5, lost 48-14 to the Cowboys Friday in what was homecoming for the Tigers. However, the 14 points is the second-most Hayden has scored in a single game this season, behind the 36 scored in its lone win over Justice on Sept. 26.
And, despite a 34-8 halftime deficit to Plateau Valley (4-3), the Tigers were only a few plays here and there from being right in the mix.
“Our Achilles heel is the big play, and we’ve given them up all year,” Wilkie said. “We cannot stop off-tackle. No matter who it is, they beat us with it. We are learning, we are just slow learners.”
The Cowboys scored exactly this way to open the game, a 70-yard touchdown run by quarterback Joseph Heaton around the right side on the first play of their second possession. The score became 14-0 after a six play, 66-yard drive that ended with a 5-yard TD run by Chris Miller.
But hope returned for the Tigers late in the first quarter, when sophomore quarterback Keyen Camilletti found senior wide out Judd Magee for a 31-yard TD hookup on fourth-and-16. Needing a stop, the Hayden defense couldn’t get leverage, giving up another long drive to the Cowboys and another short Miller TD run.
Hayden junior Jack Trapp gave the Tigers a couple of points on his safety of Heaton midway through the second quarter, but any momentum was soon squashed. Plateau Valley scored twice more before halftime, the first score a 48-yard TD run by Heaton and the second, a 4-yard score by, yes, Heaton.
“We are at least moving the football now and able to compete and doing some things we weren’t earlier,” Wilkie said. “Kids have responded. Earlier in the year, we talked about discipline and accountability and trust, and I think you are finally starting to see it in our kids.”
A 59-yard touchdown run by Heaton to open the second half made it 41-8. Heaton followed with a 31-yard score midway through the quarter to give the Cowboys a 40-point lead, starting the running clock.
The final score of the game came on a 15 play, 80-yard drive that straddled the quarters and ended with a short run by Hayden senior Garrett Camilletti.
“We got four seniors, and that’s a good football team right there,” Wilkie said, comparing Hayden’s youth to Plateau Valley’s talent. “We are trying to figure out who we are, and we have played three different quarterbacks this year. We are a different team with different people, but I’m proud of our kids for being able to be who they need to be.”
The Tigers have two games remaining in the regular season, and neither will be anything short of difficult. Next Saturday, Hayden travels to Norwood (7-1), ranked No. 3 in 8-man this week, and will finish with a senior day game at home against Soroco on Oct. 30.
Soroco (2-4), which had a bye this week, will host Plateau Valley next Saturday. The Rams lost at Plateau Valley, 33-26, in a non-league game Sept. 12.
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STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Learning to ski was as mandatory in the Schnackenberg household as reading and learning to tie shoes.