Tigers return with a roar

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It all starts with easy-going pep talks and stretches, then slowly evolves into scream-your-head-off, pad-slapping madness.

Ah, yes. Football is back.

The Hayden Tigers have been on the practice field twice a day since Aug. 11, working on slow-twitch endurance muscles in the mornings and fast-twitch sprinting muscles in the evenings. The team will line up for its first game Aug. 28.

The Tigers hope to bounce back from a losing 4-5 overall, 2-5 in league season last year, and the hopes rely on youthful vigor -- from players and coaches.

Shawn Baumgartner, 29, is the new head coach of the team, assisted by Leif Jacobsen and Mike Powell. The offensive leader is sophomore Keenan Bruchez at quarterback, who Baumgartner said has potential.

"We think the young coaching staff will really be able to relate to these kids," Hayden High School Athletics Director Kevin Kleckler said.

Large freshman and sophomore classes make up the meat of the team, but the Tigers only lost three senior starters from last season. Nine of last year's starters are back.

The Tigers practiced Tuesday with several activities, going over several set plays and many fundamental aspects of the game. Of course, the Tigers ran sprints, too.

"It's all about concentration," Baumgartner told the team.

This year, the Tigers will concentrate on making the playoffs. With four of the eight Class 1A teams guaranteed to advance to the playoffs, Baumgartner said he confident the team will advance.

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