Soroco, Hayden rivalry goes beyond scoreboard
Steamboat Springs — It has not exactly been a rivalry, at least on the scoreboard.
When Hayden and Soroco high school boys athletics teams have met, the result has been predictable and decidedly orange. Hayden has dominated the basketball series in recent years between the two, and it didn’t let up at all when the football series resumed last year after a hiatus when the two Routt County football teams were split into different divisions.
As it had before the split, Hayden won with ease.
But this rivalry, which renews at 7 p.m. Friday in Oak Creek, never has been as much about the scoreboard as it has true community-to-community competition, and no matter what the score was last year, Hayden and South Routt are gearing up again for one of the biggest games of the season.
The coaches of the teams think this one might live up to the animosity, too.
“This game is the talk of the town because it’s Soroco,” Hayden’s Shawn Baumgartner said. “Our guys started talking about this game last week. This is an important game.”
Looking back, Soroco coach David Bruner said, Hayden was simply too fast for his Rams a year ago, when they came into the game 3-0 and left in what would be a season-defining rut.
This year, however, he’s hoping a different approach can give his squad a better chance Friday and throughout the season.
The Soroco of a year ago featured a pass-happy offensive attack that Hayden and other league opponents managed to muck up.
This year’s team, 3-0 again, figures to run the ball on a far more regular basis, and might may keep it in games like Friday’s.
“They’re definitely bigger than they were last year,” Baumgartner said. “They really seem to run the ball a lot more.”
No doubt. Bruner estimated his team completely has flipped a play-calling split he estimated at 70-percent passing, 30 percent run a year ago. The team called just one pass last week in a runaway win against Plateau Valley.
Hayden, meanwhile, enters the game at 2-1, just as it did last year. Still, this isn’t the same team it was a year ago, but it hopes a few of last year’s trick still can work. Leading the way will be senior tailback Dan Engle. Engle has built on the speed that helped him stand out last year and now runs with more strength.
“I don’t think you can completely stop Engle, not an athlete like that,” Bruner said. “He’s going to get some yardage, but slowing him down will be important for us.”
No matter whether Soroco is able to end a long streak or whether Hayden again rolls, the teams likely are to be at each other’s throats again next fall.
“They’ve had this day circled since the beginning of the year,” Bruner said about his players. “There are a lot of reasons for that and not just football reasons.”
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