Hayden football hopeful for 2021 despite smaller roster | SteamboatToday.com

Hayden football hopeful for 2021 despite smaller roster

Hayden junior quarterback Brayden Dale runs with the football during a game against Vail Christian in 2020.

The 2021 Hayden football team has no seniors. That’s pretty unheard of, and is even more dramatic in comparison with last year’s eight seniors.

While that means big things for next year’s team, which will lose no one to graduation, this year’s team is still up in the air.

The roster looks smaller than usual with the lack of seniors, so the Tigers will rely on endurance to get through each game.

Some of the eight juniors got a lot of playing time last year, including quarterback Brayden Dale.

“He’s just a smart kid and he’s a good leader,” coach Matt Linsacum said. “Kids look up to him. He’s a very coachable (player).”

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Linsacum has been head coach for four years, so every player is familiar with how he runs the team.

“We’re small but they are pretty quick,” Linsacum said. “This is their fourth year running this offense, since I’ve been a head coach, so they’re getting pretty dialed in to what the offense looks like.”

Linsacum knows much of his roster works during the summer, but he wished more players were able to participate in offseason workouts. He doesn’t lament the lack of strength building, but rather the team bonding that many missed out on. He expects it’ll take a game or two to work out the kinks.

The team will rely on two non-league games to shake off the dust and get into the grind of the season. First, Hayden will host Mancos at noon Saturday. Mancos is anticipated to be one of the best eight-man football teams in the state, so they will serve as a great challenge for the Tigers.

The game will also help Hayden’s RPI, or ratings percentage index, which is determined by a team’s winning percentage, their opponents’ winning percentage, and their opponents’ opponents’ winning percentage. So, even a loss to Mancos can be beneficial, so long as Mancos ends up being an excellent team.

On Sept. 10, Hayden will continue non-league play, an opportunity not allowed during the 2020 altered season. The Tigers will travel to Norwood to face another typically strong team in the Mavericks.

“When all games are league games, it’s a little bit harder to adjust,” Linsacum said. “When you have non-league games, you can learn from them so when you get into league games you’re more dialed in.”

League play begins against Western Slope powerhouse West Grand on Sept. 17. Hayden will travel to Oak Creek to take on Routt County rival Soroco on Oct. 1.

Hayden football schedule

Aug. 28 - vs. Mancos, L 57-8

Sept. 10 - at Norwood, W 54-6

Sept. 17 - at West Grand, 7 p.m.

Sept 24 - vs. Gilpin County, 7 p.m.

Oct. 1 - at Soroco, 7 p.m.

Oct. 8 - vs. Vail Christian (senior night), 7 p.m.

Oct. 15 - vs. Plateau Valley (homecoming), 7 p.m.

Oct. 29 - at Rangely, 7 p.m.

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