Hayden Hayden offered up more than Mike McCannon was expecting.
"They were better than I thought they would be and it's not that I was overlooking them," the Steamboat Springs junior varsity coach said. "They're starting to turn it around."
The Tigers, under the direction of first-year coach Scott Parker, did their greatest Pedro Martinez impression and pitched a shutout en route to an 18-0 victory at Hayden Field Saturday.
The win moves Hayden to 2-0 this season with league play opening next Saturday at Paonia.
"Our defense played well again (Saturday)," Parker said. "It's nice to be rewarded with our effort."
With 1:04 left in the game, on the Tigers' 24-yard line, the Sailors called a halfback pass in an attempt to surprise the Tiger secondary and get some points on the board.
Trace Adams took the snap, pitched it back to Josh Lorimer, who heaved a spiral toward Tyler Fosdick streaking across the middle toward the end zone.
The pass was incomplete, but flags came from both sides of the field as Fosdick was called for pass interference, giving Steamboat an automatic first down inside the 10-yard line.
The Sailors called the same play but the pitch was fumbled.
Lorimer recovered the ball only to be immediately tackled for a nine-yard loss by Hayden defender Bubba Stark.
On second-and-19, Steamboat's Brad Bonner took a pitch toward the right sideline and sidestepped a few tacklers before being dragged down by the Tigers' Kenny Gehrman, saving a possible touchdown.
Two plays later, Hayden took over after Steamboat failed to find the end zone.
Tigers quarterback Kelly Bruchez took a knee with 14 seconds left to end the game.
"We played great defensively all game," linebacker Bruchez said.
Offensively, Hayden received enough production from its running and passing game, plus a little extra second-half boost from its defense to account for its 18-point output.
In the first quarter, on fourth-and-inches, the Tigers called for a quarterback keeper. Behind his line, Bruchez was able to break across the goal line for what turned out to be the winning touchdown with 2:09 to go.
Freshman Tyson Letlow was on the receiving end of a 12-yard Bruchez touchdown pass with 5:21 left in the second quarter, and sophomore Evan Hilling returned an interception 40 yards for the final score in the third quarter.
Parker said he would still like to establish more of a ground game.
Hayden attempted nine passes to 33 rushes but just for 100 yards, which didn't satisfy Parker.
The passing game, however, proved it could provide big plays when needed.
Four of Bruchez's passes went for more than 10 yards, with one to Alan Lighthizer going for 37 and bringing the crowd to its feet as the senior tight end out jumped his defender for the ball.
The longest catch of the day was a 54-yard completion from Steamboat's Adams to Fosdick, which singularly accounted for nearly one-third of the Sailors' 175-yard offensive output.
But the best catch of the day was Letlow's 12-yard touchdown reception.
The freshman managed to not only catch the football but also hang onto it for the score, despite being bobbled between a defender, a teammate and back to another Sailors defender before hitting the ground hard.
"We got quite a few big plays out of passing game," Parker said. "We still need to get our running game going. Give them credit for taking away our run, which forced us to pass."
Credit Hayden's defense for holding Steamboat's offense in check, but the Sailors did a fair share of that one their own.
Committing 13 penalties for 85 yards and three turnovers, Steamboat didn't give itself a chance to win the game.
"We made stupid mistakes," Fosdick said. "We had the effort, but with a tough team you can't make mistakes. Whenever we made mistakes they capitalized on them."