Hayden On Oct. 19, things looked bleak for the Hayden High School football team. Trailing 18-13 halfway through a Western Slope League match with Rangely and already carrying two league losses, Hayden didn't appear to have a shot at the postseason.
But what happened next - an explosive second-half turnaround, followed by a 41-6 rout against Meeker to lock a postseason berth, and then two thrilling playoff wins to catapult the Tigers to their first Class 1A state semifinal appearance since the inception of the 16-team bracket - Hayden head coach Shawn Baumgartner can only explain as a result of the team's veteran leadership and talent.
"Down at halftime, we hit a must-win at Rangely and saw a group of kids that found a way to get it done," Baumgartner said. "Our leadership grew as the season went along and they stepped up in the second half of the season when we needed it and helped carry that momentum into the playoffs."
On Wednesday night, Baumgartner announced the Hayden players who made the cut for the Class 1A all-league squad that coaches from the seven Western Slope League teams selected after the conclusion of the regular season.
Nine Hayden players earned the all-league honor - six to the first team and three as honorable mention. Seniors Russell Waugh (running back/outside linebacker), Aaron Haskins (tight end/inside linebacker), Garrett Murchison (tackle/defensive lineman) and Sam Kopsa (wide receiver/defensive back) were named to the first team in addition to juniors Chase Salazar (guard/defensive lineman) and Coy Letlow (running back/outside linebacker). Senior Dusty Parrott (guard/defensive lineman) and junior center/defensive linemen Jake Magee and junior quarterback/defensive back Mitchel Doolin earned honorable mention nods.
Hayden rushed for nearly 3,000 yards this season, with both of their all-league running backs earning a huge chunk of that - Letlow finished with 1,349 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns, and Waugh rushed for 713 yards and eight touchdowns.
On the defensive side, Haskins, Waugh and Letlow led the way for the Tigers with 86, 83 and 76 total tackles on the season, respectively.
The football players weren't Hayden's only fall athletes to earn all-league recognition. Hayden junior Kylee Sweetser earned first-team volleyball honors while fellow junior Holli Salazar earned honorable mention.
Soroco senior Amanda Wilson also earned honorable mention for the Rams volleyball team.