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Hayden shows promise in opener

Melinda Mawdsley

Whatever choice words Hayden football coach Shawn Baumgartner had for his players during halftime of Thursday’s game he may want to stash away for possible future use, after the Tigers rebounded from a mediocre first half to rout Moffat County’s junior varsity, 42-14.

Too bad no one but Baumgartner, the coaching staff and the players will ever know what was said in the huddle.

“We’re not allowed to say what he said,” senior Cam Whiteman said. “But it pumped us up pretty good.”

The Tigers turned a 13-0 halftime lead into a 21-0 advantage within the first two minutes of the third quarter.

Moffat County mishandled the opening kickoff of the third, forcing the Bulldogs to begin the second half on their own goal line. Hayden’s defense, which was aggressive all evening, wasted little time pressuring Moffat County quarterback Andrew Drake. With 10 minutes, 26 seconds remaining in the third, sophomore Brandon Ford dragged Drake down into the endzone for the safety. Had Ford missed, four other Tigers were there to put their paws on Drake. Instead, all five celebrated.

On the Bulldogs’ subsequent kickoff, Hayden senior Evan Hilling picked up the football at his own 35-yard line, sprinted toward the wedge in the middle of the field, broke free and ran toward the far sideline for the 65-yard kickoff return.

The conversion attempt failed, but the quick eight points Hayden scored to open the third quarter allowed the Tigers to pull away from the Bulldogs on a windy but mild evening at Moffat County High School.

“That’s the best I’ve seen a Hayden team make adjustments at halftime,” Baumgartner said.

The coach added that he was pleased with what he saw for a season-opening game. The Tigers got five touchdowns from their offense, a safety from their defense and a kickoff return for a score.

In addition, the defense forced the Bulldogs into five turnovers, as the Tigers got a good look at how aggressive their front seven will be. Though Hayden’s secondary gave up several big plays Thursday, Hilling and Kyle Woodley also made two spectacular interceptions, proving they can be counted on in single coverage, as well.

“We have a lot more fire this year,” senior Jesse Drennan said.

If anything hasn’t changed from last season it’s the presence of Whiteman in Hayden’s backfield. On Thursday, Whiteman garnered the first of what has the potential to be many 100-yard running games against a Moffat County defense that Baumgartner said would stack up favorably size-wise to many league opponents.

Whiteman rushed for 126 yards on 23 carries. Drennan added 32 yards on the ground. Freshman Jordan Williams got 9 yards in his first varsity action.

“Our goal on offense is to have 100-plus yards rushing every game,” Whiteman said.

Drennan and Whiteman said they don’t enjoy facing junior varsity squads and would have preferred to play Moffat County’s varsity even if it would have resulted in a loss. Baumgartner, however, thought the Bulldogs’ junior varsity did present some challenges to the Tigers on Thursday night.

“Size-wise they were a lot bigger than last year,” he said. “This will be an average size team in our league. They were bigger, stronger and faster than last year, and that’s what we needed to see. This game will prepare us for league.”

The Tigers still have one more nonleague game before the much-anticipated league opener against Rangely on Sept. 17.

Hayden will host Steamboat’s junior varsity Sept. 11 at the Hayden High School. The Tigers will have the advantage experience-wise, but the Sailors, like the Bulldogs, should be able to match up with regards to size and speed.

Junior Cass Thompson scored Moffat County’s first touchdown in the fourth quarter off a four-yard pass from Drake. Drake added another score for the Bulldogs when he flipped positions and caught a short pass from Kyle Gannon that turned into an 80-yard score off a fake punt play.

— To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com


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