No. 9 Hayden welcomes No. 1 Wray for Class 1A playoff football game
Graig Medvesk 124-624, 8 TD; Ryan Domson 49-301, 7 TD; Ben Williams 62-443, 6 TD; Treyben Letlow 28-156, 3 TD; Dakota Zehner 34-105, 2 TD; Greg Frentress 4-11; Journey Vreeman 3-14; Brian Hoza 6-3; Jake Hockett 1-0; Mark Doolin 2-4
Medvesk 75-151-7, 1,296 yards, 13 TD
Letlow 30-507, 5 TD; Williams 16-310, 3 TD; Dayton Dowling 12-195, 2 TD; Doolin 6-162, 1 TD; Ryan Romine 3-43; Domson 4-32; Scott Armbruster 4-54; Hoza 1-13
Cade Reinick 90-661, 16 TD; Brett Vlasin 63-281, 4 TD; Cole Beckman 60-208, 3 TD; Austin Willard 51-226, 2 TD; Derek Schulz 37-161, 2 TD; Jack Schwinn 9-47, 1 TD; Ramon Tarin 9-4; Baylor Buck 4-(-18); Jonas Cure 2-1; Alec Ellis 1-(-2); Coby Buck 1-0; Jaden Valko 1-10
Vlasin 95-157-4, 1,843 yards, 23 TD; Reinick 5-9-1, 65 yards, 2 TD; Buck 0-3-0
Jarret Cure 39-951, 12 TD; Ben Jones 30-489, 8 TD; Reinick 3-75, 1 TD; Schulz 4-43, 1 TD; Colin Brauer 9-158, 1 TD; Schwinn 3-43, 1 TD; Justin Fruhwirth 9-121, 1 TD; Willard 3-28
Steamboat Springs — The Hayden High School football team has been here before.
The Tigers, winners of three straight and five of their last six, have peered across the field in the past and seen what most outsiders deem as the best team in Class 1A.
So as No. 9 Hayden prepares to welcome top-seeded Wray to town for a 1 p.m. Saturday quarterfinal clash, the Tigers again find themselves in the role of playoff underdogs.
In 2006 the team lost in the playoffs to top-ranked Limon. The next year, a semifinal run, Hayden lost to No. 1 Akron.
This season, Hayden played and lost to defending state champion Yuma, ranked No. 1 at the time.
So what could make this time different?
“That mystique is there,” Hayden coach Shawn Baumgartner said. “What an opportunity to go out and prove to not only yourself but the whole state. The whole state is going to be watching this game. They’re not going to be watching because of you; they’re going to be watching Wray. Here’s an opportunity to go out and show what we’ve got.”
Wray, for all intents and purposes, is the class of 1A football. The Eagles are the lone undefeated team in Class 1A, at 10-0, featuring one of the more explosive offenses in the classification.
The teams share two common opponents. Wray beat Yuma, 49-6, and Holyoke, 41-0, in the final two regular season games of the year. Hayden beat Holyoke, 30-8, and lost, 21-14, to Yuma during the first two weeks of the season.
“I don’t know if you can ever think you can go undefeated,” Wray coach Levi Kramer said. “We were confident in our kids, but a lot of things have to go right for you to go 10-0.”
It also helps to have one of the top quarterbacks in the classification. Eagles quarterback Brett Vlasin has thrown for 1,843 yards with 23 touchdowns against just four interceptions. Jarret Cure has been his big target, grabbing 39 balls for 951 yards and 12 touchdowns.
After struggling early running the ball, Wray has started to move the ball on the ground, with five players having rushed for at least 160 yards, led by Cade Reinick’s 661 yards.
But most things offensively begin and end with Vlasin’s handling of the offense. The Eagles will run out of multiple formations, but mainly one with an inverted wishbone with three running backs and another with an empty backfield and four or five wide receivers.
“He’s probably the best passing quarterback I’ve seen,” Baumgartner said. “There aren’t many high school kids that can throw that 18-yard out. That’s a college throw.”
It’s not that the Tigers’ offense doesn’t have that big play capability.
Hayden rolled up 475 yards of offense in the first playoff round against Monte Vista, performing equally well in the air and on the ground.
Senior quarterback Graig Medvesk has turned in a solid season, combining for more than 1,900 yards passing and rushing to go along with 21 touchdowns.
But Baumgartner admitted that as much as offensive fireworks could dominate Saturday’s game, it will come down to how well Hayden’s defense plays.
Hayden has given up just more than 21 points a game through 10 contests this season.
“Defense is probably going to win us the game,” said Treyben Letlow, who leads Colorado at 16.4 tackles a game. “We have to shut them down so we can get our offense out there. They make a lot of big plays. They just pound the ball and pound the ball and then throw one deep. Their wide receivers are good enough to go up and get the ball and score.”
Based on knowledge of November football, both coaches said Saturday’s outcome comes down to limiting turnovers. But with two offenses that can go 80 yards in one play, the team that limits the other’s big play possibilities is sure to have the advantage.
Baumgartner said Wray presents the biggest challenge of the year, but he thinks he has a finally healthy team ready for the challenge.
“We have a team full of winners, a team full of kids that know how to win,” Baumgartner said. “… They take that onto the field with them. That helps their confidence.”
— To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229 or e-mail email@example.com
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