Tigers fight for playoff spot | SteamboatToday.com

Tigers fight for playoff spot

Melinda Mawdsley

— The Western Slope League standings will undergo a transformation Friday night.

The top four teams in the standings — Paonia, Hayden, Meeker and West Grand — play one another. With the four teams fighting for three playoff spots and two weeks remaining in the season, Friday night’s games take on a different level of importance.

“This is a huge week for our league all the way around,” Tigers coach Shawn Baumgartner said.

Hayden (6-1 overall, 4-1 in league play) faces West Grand (4-3, 3-2) at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Kremmling. Paonia (6-1, 4-1) plays Meeker (5-2, 3-2).

“West Grand is always one of those teams that just progressively gets better all the way through the season, and they’ve done the same thing this season,” Baumgartner said.

The Mustangs run an I-formation offense and don’t do anything tricky or special out of it, Baumgartner said.

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“They execute everything to a T,” he said. “What they do, they do really well.”

Paonia beat Hayden on Sept. 23. West Grand beat Paonia and Hayden beat Meeker on Oct. 7.

Hayden enters Friday’s game having defeated Grand Valley, 26-0, on Friday.

“Defensively, we played really well,” Baumgartner said.

Hayden opened the game with a drive capped by one of Keenan Bruchez’s two touchdown runs.

“We ran the ball really well in that opening drive,” Baumgartner said.

Freshman Coy Letlow had another score. Lineman Robert Culver scored the Tigers’ fourth touchdown on a fumble recovery in the end zone.

“We got down to the one and fumbled, and they got the ball,” Baumgartner said. “On the next play, we hit their back in the end zone, and he fumbled, and Robert recovered it.”

Hayden finished the game with 213 yards rushing and 68 yards passing. For the season, the Tigers have been balanced on offense, rushing for 1,206 yards and passing for 1,182 yards.