Vail Christian stays undefeated with win at Hayden
HAYDEN — Hayden Valley High School head coach Matt Linsacum wishes the players on the football team could be more like goldfish.
“We joked about a Ted Lasso comment today: ‘Be a goldfish,’” Linsacum said. “A goldfish is the happiest animal on the planet because it’s got a 10 second memory. We didn’t do that. We had bad plays and held on to those.”
Dwelling on bad plays led to more slip ups as the Tigers fell 44-0 to Vail Christian on Friday night.
An early mistake haunted Hayden all night.
The Saints punted, and a Tiger dropped on top of the bouncing ball, but the football came loose. A Saint landed on the ball, giving his team possession near the Hayden 30-yard line. A couple plays later, the visitors scored with a 12-yard rush from senior Leo Rothenburg. Senior Vinny Nowicki added the 2-point conversion.
“As an athlete, you have to learn to be short-minded,” Linsacum said. “For instance, when we had that punt, we held on to that for the whole first half, and that came back and killed us.”
It’s hard to say if the game would have been different if that error hadn’t been made. It’s unlikely. The Saints are one of the best teams in 8-man football with a 6-0 record now.
“We have a good group of seniors,” said Saints head coach Tim Pierson. “And that makes a big difference when you have kids that have played for a while and their maturity and leadership.”
Vail Christian opted to run the ball more often than not, but both quarterback Taylor Shull and Nowicki took snaps, tricking the Tigers on occasion. Most of the time, Hayden did a good job of following the ball, but the Saints earned three or four yards each time, cruising down the field with little resistance.
Hayden started moving on offense down 30-0 with about six minutes to play. Junior Sabyn Hager earned big yards to set up a run by junior quarterback Brayden Dale that earned a first down and put the Tigers on the Saints 30-yard line. Three plays later, Dale picked up another first down and set Hayden up on the 14-yard line with less than two minutes to play.
Vail Christian’s defense put up three consecutive stops, bringing up a fourth-and-1 situation for the Tigers.
Dale was pressured but looked left and threw the ball to Grady Frentress on the near sideline. The sophomore made the catch and was dropped at the 1 yard line as time expired.
“We need more communication and just keep our heads on straight,” junior Jake Lindley said. “We’re a good team. We just have to concentrate. There’s a lot of lack of that.”
With a younger quarterback running the Vail Christian offense in the fourth, the Tigers took advantage. A Saint receiver tipped a pass in the endzone, and Hager was there to nab the falling ball. He ran 30 yards. Dale followed with a big run to midfield, but the drive stopped there. Vail Christian forced a turnover on downs with nine minutes to play and scored once more to force a running clock.
“We’re not going to let that game define us,” Linsacum said. “We took our lump on that one. It’s just about coming back a little bit stronger. We kind of jumped out of character there during the game as a team, and it’s going to be about an attitude adjustment and moving forward.”
Vail Christian 44, Hayden 0
VC 16 14 8 6
H 0 0 0 0
• VC – Leo Rothenberg 12 rush, Vinny Nowicki rush, 8:25
• VC – Daniel Farrell 10 pass from Taylor Shull, 1:04
• VC – Nowicki 12 pass from Shull, conversion no good, 11:29
• VC – Shull 40 rush, Peter Mills rush, 6:23
• VC – Shull 5 rush, Nowicki rush, 7:07
• VC – Hunter Gilbert 16 rush, conversion no good, 8:00
Aug. 28 - vs. Mancos, L 57-8
Sept. 10 - at Norwood, W 54-6
Sept. 17 - at West Grand, W 36-24
Sept 24 - vs. Gilpin County, W 56-6
Oct. 1 - at Soroco, W 48-0
Oct. 8 - vs. Vail Christian (senior night), L 44-0
Oct. 15 - vs. Plateau Valley (homecoming), W 48-24
Oct. 29 - at Rangely, 7 p.m.
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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