Tigers open season in Craig

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— When the Hayden football team takes the field tonight in its season opener, coach Shawn Baumgartner is expecting to face a Moffat County junior varsity squad similar to the one the Tigers saw two years ago.

Last year, Hayden routed Moffat County, 43-6. But two seasons ago, when many of the Tigers' veteran players were underclassmen, the Bulldogs hung close before the Tigers pulled away late in the game.

"I really think they will be a lot better than last year," Baumgartner said.

At the same time, Baumgartner expects Hayden to be an improved team, considering he has a large contingent of juniors and seniors expected to start in the opener.

Hayden is Class A in football, while Moffat County is 3A, which is why the Tigers' varsity is facing the Bulldogs' junior varsity team.

Kickoff between Hayden and Moffat County's junior varsity is 7 p.m. tonight at Moffat County High School in Craig.

Under the new playoff format implemented by the Colorado High School Activities Association this fall, the Tigers will not receive any points for playing a junior varsity team.

Football teams in Class A are fighting for automatic bids determined by league finish, but Class A also will hand out two wildcard spots based on points accumulated during the season. Those points are accumulated based on teams played and those results.

The Tigers won't receive any points -- win or lose-- for facing Moffat County's junior varsity.

"It's a varsity game for us," Baumgartner said. "We prepared for this game like any conference game. We go off last year's film and show them as many things as we can. It's a game, and it's Thursday night this time, but it's under the lights."

Last year against the Bulldogs, the Tigers were able to do pretty much everything they wanted, most notably run the ball. This year, Hayden has a new offense, and the coaches and players would like to see where they are against a defense other than their own.

Hayden scrimmaged Summit, a 3A team, last Saturday with positive results, Baumgartner said.

"We've come a long way during two-a-days," he said. "Looking back at our tape from last year against Summit, they handled us pretty well. This year we did a lot of things well. They had one big run for a touchdown. Other than that, we stopped them."

Hayden plays Moffat County and Steamboat's junior varsity before opening its league season Sept. 17 against Rangely.

-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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