Saturday, August 24, 2002
Hayden Bubba wasn't too happy.
As an incoming senior, he didn't believe the timing was so hot for not one, but three new coaches to take over Hayden's football program.
"I didn't think it was going to be too good," he said.
After all, the Tigers had gone to the playoffs for two straight years and finished the 2001 season with a winning record in league play, but fullback Ronald Stark, otherwise known as Bubba, is realizing not much has to change, considering new coach Scott Parker and assistants Shawn Baumgartner and Leif Jacobsen have every intention on leading Hayden back to the postseason.
"That's definitely our goal," Parker said. "Because anything can happen once you get there."
The Tigers' road to the playoffs inherited a few potholes with the recent additions of Rangely, Meeker and Grand Valley to the league. All three are former 3A schools that have moved down to 2A after decreases in enrollment. Parker has opted to view this change as a positive more than a negative.
"I'm looking forward to seeing how we match up against the opposition," he said.
The film has started rolling in, allowing Parker to get a better feel for the upcoming opposition, while he and his assistants continue to become better acquainted with their own roster.
Several weeks ago, boys in baseball caps and cutoffs were busily learning their new offensive and defensive schemes in minicamp. On Aug. 21, beefed up in pads, things were clicking.
"They've improved quite a bit since minicamp," Parker said. "We're refining the stuff they know and getting through the system to work out the kinks. I was impressed with their ability to pick things up."
The players were equally impressed with themselves and their new coaches.
"They are awesome," senior lineman Chris Bray said. "They know what they are doing."
What Parker is doing is bringing a little of the Big Red Machine to Hayden. Known for its offense built on power and speed, Nebraska's scoring attack has become a popular recipe for success coast to coast, particularly at the high school level.
Starting quarterback senior Kelly Bruchez said the Tigers ran a similar offense under former coach Kevin Kleckler, but this year they said to expect the option offense to work more toward the outside.
"We're not a big team," Bruchez said. "But we have more speed to the outside."
Defensively, expect more stunts with a new, attacking 4-3 scheme. Stark a lineman-turned-linebacker seemed pleased about his role within the defense.
"You can be more aggressive and there's more action," he said.
While time has been spent learning a new system, Bray said the coaches have stressed the fundamentals with regard to techniques of the overall game.
"From last year we've learned a lot more and the coaches said we're ahead of schedule," he said.
Hayden is the first Routt County team to begin the 2002 football season.
The Tigers travel to Craig Thursday to open against Moffat County's junior varsity squad at 7 p.m. as they shoot for the playoffs for a third straight season.
"But we'll take it one step at a time," Stark said with a smile.
Bubba seems pretty happy after all.