Hayden The stands were empty. The field wasn't lined, and the uniforms were cut-off shirts and the occasional backwards cap instead of pads and helmets, but work was being done.
For the first time in nine years, Hayden has a new set of high school football coaches, and the July 21-23 mini-camp provided an opportunity for appropriate introductions to schemes and each other.
Those familiar with Colorado prep football may not have heard the name Scott Parker before, but they know of Fort Morgan. Over the past four years, with Parker as an assistant, the Mustangs went 50-4 with one state title and a runner-up finish.
Raised in Craig, Parker, 33, is excited to be back in Northwest Colorado with his wife Shelley and their two young sons, Sam and John. This fall, Shelley will be the new fifth-grade teacher, and Scott will work as a resource teacher in the middle school.
"When an opportunity came up to come to Hayden we jumped on it," Parker said.
His familiarity with Hayden's football program, however, extends beyond his ties to Craig. Kevin Kleckler, the Tigers' former coach, and Parker were high school teammates. When he left his position in the school and on the team to become athletics director, Kleckler knew one of his first tasks was finding a replacement for himself.
"It was interesting for sure," Kleckler said. "Those kids that are seniors this year, I've had for three years. They all deserve the best. We're hoping for the best, and I think he'll do a fine job."
Parker said one of his first points of emphasis with the players was good citizenship on and off the field. After just three days of mini-camp, expectations, on the other hand, are hard to formulate.
"All the kids have a clean slate coming in," Parker said. "We're just going on that. The kids seem to be real hard workers. They seem pretty receptive. We're focusing a lot more on our new scheme so it's not a foreign language when they start two-a-days."
Parker said Hayden would run out of the I-formation, utilizing a little option much like Nebraska. The Tigers ran a similar style of offense under Kleckler, so the returning players should have an easier time adjusting.
Defensively, expect changes.
Parker said the Tigers will run an attacking 4-3 defense, which is different than the five and sometimes six-man fronts Hayden's defensive players were accustomed to.
Assistants Shawn Baumgartner, 28, and Leif Jacobsen, 25, both played defense in college, so Parker plans on letting them take some control on that side of the football.
Baumgartner, who will also coach the boys' basketball team, is originally from the eastern plains town of Keenesburg. He played cornerback for Fort Lewis College in Durango but left Colorado to serve as assistant quarterbacks coach at North Dakota State University.
He couldn't stay gone for long. In fact, both himself and Jacobsen, originally from Dickinson, N.D., were attracted to Hayden for the same reason.
"The mountains," they said in unison.
Baumgartner missed teaching and coaching, which was why he left NDSU. He will be the high school physical education teacher this fall. Jacobsen, just removed from college at Dickinson State University, where he played defensive end, will be the high school math teacher. While Baumgartner said he always envisioned himself coaching, Jacobsen never thought about it.
"I wasn't looking to coach," he said. "But I wasn't going to turn it down."
The July 21-23 mini-camp was the first contact both coaches had with the Tiger players. In fact, it was their first contact with Hayden.
"I haven't even moved here yet," Baumgartner said Wednesday. "I've been here for these three days for camp. I'm crashing on Leif's couch."
The trio of coaches all said they get along well and are anxious for the season to start, particularly now that they've met most of the team and started filling the players' heads with their playbook.
"It's an easy system to learn," Baumgartner said. "We put almost all of the plays in during the three days of camp. We have no true expectations at this point, but we have a good idea what we have to work with."