First-round challenge for Hayden |

First-round challenge for Hayden

'Second season' hopes go through tough Sanford team

Dave Shively

— The Hayden High School football team has proved that it can win when it must win.

Having suffered a pair of league losses, Hayden had to win its final two games for any hope of reaching the postseason. The Tigers ran off two back-to-back, 40-point offensive efforts – over Rangely and Meeker – to lock a postseason berth.

The real question is if Hayden (7-2 overall) can do it again in the first round of the Class 1A playoffs, when the team hosts Sanford (8-1) at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Although Hayden earned the No. 5 seed and Sanford the No. 12, Hayden coach Shawn Baumgartner saw some striking similarities between the two teams upon dissecting game footage of Sanford’s game versus the teams’ one common opponent, Dolores.

“They remind us a lot of … us,” Baumgartner said. “They have three solid (running) backs, and they’re going to try to run.”

Both teams were the runner-ups in competitive leagues where a handful of even-matched contenders battled for few playoff spots.

Sanford head coach Cody Reynolds said the reason his Indians received the lower seed, despite having a better record, is because Southern Peaks League champion Del Norte, seeded No. 8, had a couple of early-season losses to weaker Sante Fe League opponents. Western Slope League champion Grand Valley, the No. 3 seed, went undefeated.

Sanford missed an undefeated season and its league championship by a failed extra-point kick in a 12-13 loss to Del Norte. Sanford then went on to close out three consecutive league opponents by a combined score of 140-39.

The Indians work out of a three-back wishbone formation behind 235-pound nose tackle Brock Miller, anchored by senior fullback Trevor Mortensen and fueled by junior running backs Todd Crowther and David Romero.

Reynolds insisted that the team’s first-year, junior quarterback, Austin Edgar, was mostly just an option rusher and that throwing the ball was “not (his) cup of tea.”

But when Baumgartner watched the video of Edgar throwing for three touchdowns in Sanford’s game against Dolores, he explained Hayden’s need for another complete effort.

“It’ll be a question of who can break the big play and the defense to step up and stop the run,” Baumgartner said.

Of course, the Tigers don’t have to deal with a 300-mile bus ride.

“We’ll try to weather the road trip, play hard and hopefully the kids will be satisfied with their effort,” said Reynolds, who’s also been studying a little Hayden film. “There’s no doubt we’re playing a good team that’s well-coached – I have respect for the way this team looks.

“It will be an exciting playoff.”

– To reach Dave Shively, call 871-4253

or e-mail

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