Hayden looks to build | SteamboatToday.com

Hayden looks to build

After impressive start, Tigers to take on Paonia

— In Shawn Baumgartner’s four years as Hayden football coach, he has learned that one win or loss doesn’t make a season.

That’s why in practice this week, he has preached to his team not to get too high after last week’s 38-6 dismantling of league opponent West Grand.

“As a coach, you always worry about that,” Baumgartner said about his team being overconfident. “We’ve had good practices and intensity this week. I just think the guys are ready to go down and see how we can do against Paonia.”

Hayden (3-0 overall, 1-0 in league), will bring a top-10 ranking into the league showdown with the Eagles. For the first time this year, the Tigers are ranked No. 8 by the Rocky Mountain News. Paonia is ranked No. 7 by The Denver Post.

“It’s a big game for both teams because the winner is going to be sitting up at the top of the league with a leg up on each other,” Baumgartner said. “It’s still early in the season, and you don’t want to look ahead, but this is the biggest game of the season to this point.”

Paonia (3-0, 0-0) comes into the game with two victories against Class 2A opponents. Returning running back Tanner Ridgeway ranks in the top five of Class 1A in rushing with 319 yards. Baumgartner said the Eagle offense is balanced and offers looks from the shotgun and I-formation. He also said Paonia’s offensive line is quite impressive.

“They’re really big up front,” he said. “They’ve got a bunch of seniors and juniors up there, and they return their quarterback and tailback. Offensively, they’re really well-balanced.”

Coming into tonight’s game, the Tigers have outscored their opponents, 120-22, in three games. Last week, they rolled up 366 yards rushing and more than 400 yards of total offense. Baumgartner said he isn’t worried about how his team will react if tonight’s game is close. Citing last week’s game against West Grand, in which the Tigers fell behind 6-0 on the first drive of the game before scoring 38 unanswered points, Baumgartner said this Hayden team has shown a lot of character.

“We’re definitely confident about the way our team is playing,” he said. “We’re going to go into every game and play hard. If we keep things close going into the fourth quarter, we think we have a chance every time.”

– To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229 or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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