Steamboat Springs The Hayden Tigers dialed in their running game Saturday against Steamboat Springs' junior varsity squad by clocking in and going to work from No. 9 to No. 5.
After sophomore running back Coy Letlow scored early to put the Tigers up, 7-0, Hayden's coaches continued having No. 9 sophomore quarterback Mitchel Doolin put the ball in the hands of No. 5 Letlow. The combination led the Tigers to an easy 42-16 victory.
The Sailors struggled early to find a way to stop Letlow and the Tigers' rushing attack. Hayden marched down the field in a 58-yard, first-quarter drive that burned more than six minutes off the clock and resulted in a five-yard Brandon Ford touchdown.
"It was nothing fancy, they just smashed it down our throats," said Mike McCannon, the Sailors' defensive coordinator. "They were a lot bigger and tougher than we thought they would be."
Up 14-0, Hayden continued to run the ball with Ford, junior Russell Waugh and Letlow, who tallied 83 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns in the first half.
"For a lot of these guys, playing against a varsity-level opponent is eye-opening, and this was their first real test," McCannon said. "At halftime, I told them to just win the second half, to play tougher and work to get better."
After opening the third quarter with another scoring drive that ended in Ford's second rushing touchdown, the Tigers subbed in sophomore quarterback Jeremy Engle and began looking to pass.
"We wanted to give him some looks behind the varsity line," Tigers coach Shawn Baumgartner said. "We wanted him to roll out and feel what it's like to make those completions."
Engle certainly had the feel when he found senior Dave Gullett in the end zone to put the Tigers up 42-0.
At the close of the third quarter, the Sailors mounted a drive behind sophomores Alex Wood and Kerry Timmerman into Tiger territory. Capitalizing on an ensuing Tigers fumble - their only turnover of the game - Wood connected with sophomore Chase Grippa to put the Sailors on the board.
With most of the Tigers' first team on the bench, the Sailors offense came alive as freshman Austin Hinder made another touchdown pass to Grippa in the game's closing minute.
Hayden's next game is 7:30 p.m. Friday against West Grand.