Tigers host Eagles in league opener | SteamboatToday.com

Tigers host Eagles in league opener

— Tiger fans, bring the stadium chairs to the game Saturday. It could be a long one.

Paonia and Hayden coaches say this will be an evenly matched game and agree staying mentally sharp will be the deciding factor in the outcome.

“It’s not going to be decided until the fourth quarter,” Paonia Coach Jeremy McCormick said. “I believe we’re pretty evenly matched up. It’s going to come down to turnovers and penalties.”

But McCormick made those observations based on matches from years past. He said his team had not yet reviewed film of this year’s Hayden squad.

Hayden coach Shawn Baumgartner said the Tigers have been watching film this week, studying each play the Eagles could dish at them. Baumgartner said if his team doesn’t give up big plays, they would be the victors.

“This will definitely be the first true test of the season,” Baumgartner said.

Baumgartner also said he has been preaching to his players about how to handle adversity. Though giving up a big play or making a turnover could be a turning point in the game, Baumgartner said it would only affect the Tigers adversely if they hang their heads afterward.

“They have to understand they can’t change the past, but they can only focus on the present,” Baumgartner said. “They need to understand that mistakes will happen.”

The Eagles probably will go straight to the running game, using their big line to create space for their solid senior running-back tandem to attack. They probably also will use the ground attack because “passing needs some work,” McCormick said.

Hayden running back Cam Whiteman and quarterback Keenan Bruchez are likely to contribute most of the yards for the Tigers, judging by their performance in Steamboat Springs last week.

The Tigers will try to protect the best they can, Baumgartner said. Going up against the big Paonia front, Hayden will have to prove the old cliche, “mind over matter.”

— To reach Nick Foster call 871-4204

or e-mail nfoster@steamboatpilot.com

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