After the Hayden High School football team's easy wins against junior varsity squads, it was ready to face a varsity opponent.
To the surprise of Tiger players and coach Shawn Baumgartner, Hayden fared even better, defeating Rangely, 50-0, on Friday in Rangely.
The Moffat County and Steamboat Springs junior varsity squads had more success moving the ball against the Tigers than Rangely's varsity squad did.
"Our starting defense played seven series, and six of those were three-and-out," Baum--gartner said. "I think we showed we were ready to enter the league. The defense made a statement, and the offense did, too."
The Panthers were without their starting tailback, a 125-pound sophomore, who was injured in the previous game, Baumgartner said. Rangely operated out of the shotgun with an empty backfield.
The only drive Rangely put together against Hayden's starting defense stalled out on Hayden's 30-yard line after Rangely's quarterback was sacked on fourth-and-long.
The Tigers, on the other hand, scored on their first two drives to go up 14-0 in the first quarter. Last year, Hayden did the same thing before its defense had to make a game-saving stand in the fourth quarter. There was no suspense Friday.
"It was a JV game for a quarter-and-a-half," Baumgartner said.
Hayden's junior varsity players came in during the third quarter and completed the shutout, something they had been unable to do against Moffat County and Steamboat in their first two games. Hayden's starters have not played much more than one half in any of their three games.
"It's been neat to see the young guys step up when they go in there," Baumgartner said. "They've taken a lot of pride in that this year."
Baumgartner expects the starters to play more when Hayden (3-0 overall, 1-0 in Western Slope League play) hosts Paonia at 7:30 p.m. Friday for homecoming.
Paonia will have to stop a balanced offense. Through three games, Hayden has amassed 515 rushing yards, including 163 yards Friday. Quarterbacks Keenan Bruchez, a senior, and Mitch Doolin, a freshman, have thrown for 583 yards. Neither has thrown an interception.
On Friday, Bruchez completed 13 passes for 170 yards and three touchdowns. Senior Tyson Letlow caught all three scoring passes. Junior Brandon Ford had 10 carries for 61 yards and two touchdowns. Freshman Coy Letlow had three carries for 20 yards and a score.
The other Hayden touchdown came later in the game, when sophomore Sam Kopsa intercepted Rangely's quarterback and returned the ball 32 yards for a score.