Tigers roar into playoffs | SteamboatToday.com

Tigers roar into playoffs

Christine Metz

— Gel-osity.

It has nothing to do with football plays or formations, but it is what Hayden coach Kevin Kleckler said his team needs in order to win its first playoff game on Saturday against Dolores County.

Gel-osity is what the players have coined Kleckler’s mission to get his team to gel, something that has at times eluded the 4-5 Tigers.

“Talent-wise, we have much more (than Dolores County). If we can just pull it together, we are capable of wining,” Kleckler said. “We have been plagued at times by not showing up (to play). We have the talent, but sometimes we just don’t gel.”

And gelling, or gel-osity, as the Tigers would say, will be a major factor for the first round of the playoffs when the Bulldogs travel from the southwestern corner of the state to Hayden for a 1 p.m. game.

For a team that has dropped three of its four away games, Hayden received a lucky break when the playoff brackets placed the state’s No. 8-ranked Class 1A team on the Tigers’ home turf.

As the second-place team in the San Juan League, the 8-1 Bulldogs will come into the playoffs with only one loss, which was against the league’s top-ranked team, Dolores.

But Kleckler said records and state rankings have not intimated the Tigers, who will be going to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time in years. On Friday, the Tigers were leading 7-6 against the state’s second-ranked Class 1A team West Grand until halftime. And the Tigers beat the 8th-ranked team John Mall High School last year in the first round of the playoffs.

The most intimidating part of Saturday’s game will not be the rankings or records, but the Bulldogs heavy air offense led by Keith Pierce. The 6-foot-5, 180- pound quarterback has amassed over 1,600 passing yards for the season, his main target being wide receiver Dallas Coker, who has caught for 737 yards.

On the ground, the Tigers will be watching Bru Meyer, who has run for 623 of the Bulldogs’ 1061 yards this season.

While the Tigers have three videotapes and some scouting reports on the Bulldogs, Dolores County coach Ken Soper said he has little information.

“We don’t know hardly anything,” Soper said. “We don’t even have (Hayden’s ) roster … it’s hard to say how we’ll match up.”

The teams do have one common opponent, which is Nucla. Hayden won a close 14-12 contest against Nucla early in the season, but was without two of its main starters quarterback Kevin Miller and tight end Kelly Bruchez.

Last week, Dolores County came out on top against Nucla with an 8-0 win.

Despite Hayden’s information, Kleck-

ler said his team is focusing on the fundamentals this week before meeting up with Dolores County, a team that runs a multiple set I-formation offense and a 4-5 defense. For the Tigers, the fundamentals come down to tackling and catching.

“We’re not doing anything new on offense, we’re just perfecting what we already have,” Kleckler said.

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