What's half a step in football?
It's the difference between a back completing an 80-yard touchdown run or getting stuffed at the line of scrimmage; it's a receiver making a diving catch for a first down or watching the ball bounce off the ground incomplete; and it's a quarterback falling forward for a touchdown or laying on his back looking up at a defensive lineman.
It's also how close Hayden has come to turning things around this season, Tigers coach Shawn Baumgartner said.
The first-year head coach is optimistic that his players will find that extra half-step Saturday when they face the West Grand Mustangs in one of the most important games of the season for the only two teams who are winless in 1A Western Slope League play.
Baumgartner admits that this game's importance will not be measured in terms of league titles or state berths, which are impossible for both teams, but in the battle to stay out of the league's cellar.
"I keep telling the guys that they are only half a step away from breaking that big play," Baumgartner said.
Those big plays are just what the Tigers will need in Kremmling on Saturday to end the four-game skid that has left the team at 2-4 overall and 0-4 in the Western Slope League.
Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. at West Grand High School.
The game will be important for the West Grand Mustangs, a team that also is looking for its first win, league or nonleague, in five games this season.
The Mustangs are coming off a heartbreaking 20-19 loss to Plateau Valley (2-2 in league play) last Saturday at Plateau Valley.
If Hayden wants to win the game, Baumgartner knows his team will have to do a better job of moving the ball, something it was unable to do in a 42-0 loss last week against Grand Valley.
Tiger Kenny Gehrman collected 52 yards on seven carries, and Cam Whiteman added 30 yards on eight carries for the bulk of Hayden's 83 yards on the ground. Tigers quarterback Keenan Bruchez connected on six of 19 attempts for 91 yards. However, he also threw two interceptions in the game.
Grand Valley scored 15 points in the first quarter and raced to a 22-0 halftime lead. The Cardinals added another touchdown in the third, before blowing the game wide open in the final quarter of play.
With just three games remaining this season Baumgartner said every game has become important for the Tigers who are looking to build momentum for this season and next year.
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