Thursday, August 29, 2002
Hayden Not that Hayden sophomore Cam Whiteman's 130-yard rushing performance can solely be attributed to finding shoes that fit, but getting rid of his tiny turf shoes and replacing them with cleats that let his toes move didn't hurt.
The blocking Whiteman received from Hayden's offensive line and fullback Bubba Stark didn't hurt either as the Tigers prevailed over Moffat County's junior varsity, 20-6, Thursday evening in Craig.
"He just ran the ball real hard," Hayden coach Scott Parker said. "He's our workhorse. He had a real nice game, and our offensive line did some nice things as a group in the second half."
Thursday's season opener for the Tigers was basically a tale of two halves, which isn't surprising for the first game of the year.
The defense came out full throttle, displaying some of the speed Hayden coaches and players spoke so highly of in the preseason. After two quick rushing plays, the Tigers' Jared Alpe sacked Bulldog freshman quarterback Derek Duran for a 4-yard loss, and Allan Lighthizer had Duran in his grasp again on the subsequent play, but the shifty signal caller escaped the high tackle and broke free for roughly a 50-yard run down the middle of the field before Hayden caught him from behind.
Moffat County scored shortly after on a fourth-and-two quarterback keeper. The two-point conversion attempt failed.
So did the Bulldogs' attempts to find the end zone again.
The Tigers' stifling run defense and decent prevent pass coverage late in the game, coupled with a strong offensive second half, lifted Hayden to a 1-0 record in this young 2002 season.
"They gave up that one big play and you have to credit their kid for making a nice run," Parker said of his defense. "But that was their only play. Our defense played really well."
The offense even though in a small school like Hayden's the same guys basically play on both sides of the ball was not to be outdone, however, as the Tigers rebounded from a scoreless first half to post 20 second-half points to secure the victory.
Hayden's first touchdown came at the 5:51-mark in the third quarter off quarterback Kelly Bruchez's 2-yard quarterback keeper over the center,
but the conversion attempt was no good, tying the game at 6.
The score seemed to ignite the defense even more.
Moffat County began its next drive with just more than five minutes left in the half. Its first play went for a loss of 1 yard. Its second play went gain of 2, setting up a third-and-nine with 3:45 left in the quarter. A delay of game penalty made it third-and-14, but Stark's sack for a 10-yard loss one of two sacks he had Thursday night on the next play forced the Bulldogs to punt.
"I like defense," Stark said with a smile.
Hayden's go-ahead touchdown came with 36 seconds left in the third off a scintillating spiral from Bruchez to a wide-open Evan Hilling in the right corner of the end zone.
The Tigers' final score came with 5:47 left in the fourth off Whiteman's 2-yard, refuse-to-be-tackled run behind Stark across the goal line.
"You can't really miss him," Whiteman said of Stark.
The extra-point attempt was flat, resulting in the 20-6 final.
And Hayden will take it.
Following the win, Parker agreed his special-teams unit needs some work, but it's difficult to simulate live game situations in practice, so he wasn't overly upset about the hustle penalties and fumbles that occurred.
One thing he was particularly pleased with was his young squad's ability to overcome a first-half deficit to take the lead and build on it.
"I'm proud of them," Parker said.
"Yeah," Stark said. "This win felt pretty good."
To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org