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Hayden Tigers hoping to extend winning streak against Justice

Hayden head coach Ryan Wilkie rallies his troops in the second half of the Tigers 12-6 victory over Nederland on Aug. 26. The Tigers are hoping to make it back-to-back wins this Friday when the team hosts Justice.
John F. Russell

— The Hayden Tigers football team had plenty to celebrate after an opening-season victory over Nederland Aug. 26.

But that game was 13 days ago, and now, the task at hand for coach Ryan Wilkie is making sure his team is ready for the second big test of the 2016 season. That test will take place against Justice at 7 p.m. Friday in Hayden.

“Every week is the next biggest week,” Wilkie said. “We enjoyed the win this past week, but now it’s time to get down to business.”

On Tuesday, the Tigers analyzed film and began the task of preparing for Justice — a small school located in Lafayette. Hayden defeated Justice 36-14 last season. The game was one of the few bright spots for the Tigers, who finished 1-7. But Wilkie said both teams are improved in 2016.

“I’ve looked at the film, and they are vastly improved from the team we saw last season,” Wilkie said. “They have a ton of talent, and they are very quick.”

Justice will be looking to rebound from a 20-18 loss last weekend to Nederland — a team the Tigers held off 12-6 in the final minutes of the opener in Hayden.

“Our kids battled tough against Nederland, as did Hayden, but we unfortunately didn’t come out on top,” Justice coach Nels Thoreson said. “We played well in spurts but didn’t make enough plays to beat a talented Nederland team.”

The coach said his players have put the loss behind them and are busy preparing for Hayden.

“Our team is really looking forward to the game this Friday, under the lights, at Hayden,” he said. “It’s a long road trip from Boulder, but you can’t beat the atmosphere in Hayden for a Friday night football game.”

Thoreson said it’s always difficult to prepare in a short week like this. He said the team has been spending time looking at film and said he expects a team coached by Wilkie is going to be disciplined, prepared and ready to go.

“We look forward to the challenge,” Thoreson said. “It will be crucial for my team to get in and get as much film study as possible. Hayden has a really nice scheme, with a variety of formations that will be a true test for both our offense and defense.”

On the other sideline, Wilkie will be looking for an improved performance from his team. Hayden won the game, but the effort was marred by three turnovers — something the coach is hoping to limit in Friday’s game.

‘It was the opening week, and you expect some of that,” Wilkie said. “But I think we put it behind us, and hopefully, we will see an improvement in that part of our game this week.”

The coach will also be looking for Dylan Frentress to have a big game. In the opener, Frentress rushed for 52 yards on nine carries. But the turning point of the game came when Christian Carson exploded for 90 yards on a kickoff return setting up Hayden’s first touchdown of the game.

However, it was the Tigers defense that secured the win with big tackles at big times including 16 from Carson, eight more from Peyton Spafford and seven from Frentress.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966


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