Huge first quarter powers Hayden football past Justice
Hayden — Just 12 minutes into Hayden High School football’s first night home game Friday, the Tigers were in unfamiliar territory.
Unfamiliar, but quite a luxurious territory to be in.
Hayden reeled off 40 points before visiting Justice could even blink, three of the five scores coming on one-play drives.
But for a Tigers squad that is suiting up way more freshmen, sophomore and junior starters than upperclassmen, teaching the youngsters what to do with such an enormous lead is a task in itself.
“It was tough to explain to them what to do,” Hayden coach Shawn Baumgartner admitted, speaking for a team that weathered an almost impossible pre-league schedule, opening with a pair of state powers in Merino and Dayspring Christian Academy.
And the unfamiliar waters showed a bit.
Hayden quarterback Garrett Camilletti converted a Justice muffed punt into a 1-yard touchdown plunge with 2:25 left in the first quarter to give the Tigers the 40-0 lead.
That’s when the running clock was fired up, and the junior varsity squad was called upon to bleed out the remaining three quarters and give Hayden its second win in the last two weeks.
The Tigers fumbled on their next drive, had a punt blocked the opening drive of the second half, and even when the seniors were thrust back into action to help clean up the lackluster play, Hayden coughed up another fumble — a turnover the Phoenix converted into a touchdown to make it 40-14.
Hayden would only get its hands on the ball two more plays thereafter, but they were big. One was a 76-yard, kick-return touchdown by senior Jack Redmond, and the other a 52-yard scamper by Camilletti to salt the game away and give the Tigers a 56-20 victory.
Baumgartner points to big plays from his few experienced veterans for sparking the final scoring outburst late in the fourth quarter.
On the first play from scrimmage, Redmond took a handoff, shrugged off a pair of arm tackles and raced 58 yards for a score.
Camilletti got the next touchdown after a six-play drive to make it 16-0. And the next time Redmond got a touch, he made Justice pay for turning it over on downs deep in Hayden territory. The senior blew past the porous Phoenix defense for a 92-yard score.
“Those big plays helped us respond in the fourth quarter to come back from that lull we had,” Baumgartner said. “We knew we were able to do that. We just needed to buckle down and get back to our fundamentals.”
With the running clock in effect, Hayden was only able to run five plays on offense in the final two quarters.
The Phoenix, meanwhile, never really got away from what they wanted to do all night: let quarterback Trae Gomez, easily their best athlete, throw the football.
Gomez threw 28 passes, 26 in the first half, and completed just eight of them for 155 yards and a pair of late scores. He also ran for another score the first play of the second half and was plagued by more than a dozen dropped passes.
Hayden held Justice to 234 yards of total offense.
Redmond’s big plays filled up his stat sheet on a limited night. The do-it-all weapon had five carries for 155 yards and a pair of touchdowns on top of the 76-yard kick return score.
Camilletti had 79 yards on the ground and three scores, and freshman Will Lighthizer had 10 carries for 78 yards and a touchdown in a reserve role after the first quarter.
Next up for the Tigers is 2A Western Slope League play as well as homecoming week. Hayden will face 4-1 Rangely next Friday night to begin the conference schedule. Kickoff is 7 p.m.
“We have to come out fired up and hit them right from the get-go,” Redmond said. “I know we’re capable of doing it. We just have to take care of business.”
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