Dave Shively's outdoors column appears Sundays in the Steamboat Pilot & Today. Contact him at 871-4253 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
The question caught me so off guard, I almost laughed:
Would someone be streaming a live gamecast of Hayden's quarterfinal football game, Saturday in Byers?
I don't think "gamecast" has ever been used in the same sentence with this sleepy Eastern Plains town of 1,200, most notable for its tornado activity (87 percent greater than the U.S. average, according to city-data.com).
Finding a fancy color photograph of the game was tough enough. But how does that help Mike Coziahr, a 1983 Hayden grad who follows the Tigers from Pensacola, Fla.?
People can leave small towns like Hayden, but these "big ones" never seem to leave them. Coziahr took me back to Hayden's 1975 playoff game against Haxtun.
"There were flat-bed trucks lining the field, I'd never seen so many people at a football game," said Coziahr, now the stadium operations manager for the Pensacola Pelicans baseball team, then just a starry-eyed kid looking up to the big boys in town. Coziahr joked that he can barely remember day-to-day details, yet he can give the play-by-play of a 32-year-old game: Hayden running back Richard Smith went down, so it was up to Ronnie Morton to deliver the ball to the Haxtun three-yard line on a trick play. But the Tigers couldn't punch it in, so down a touchdown, Hayden missed a shot at the state title game by three yards.
And this is why he called.
All week, Shawn Baumgartner fed the fire of the current Hayden team's emotion by telling them they could make history with a win Saturday in Byers, earning the program's first trip to the state semifinals. Coziahr insisted the archives Baumgartner cited from coloradopreps.com were inaccurate, and that Hayden lost in the '74 semis in Lyons and again versus Haxtun. Both teams went on to win state titles.
He referred me to Doug Hall, the retired '74/'75 coach who now lives on a Fruita ranch. Hall was resolute they had made the semis, and his recall of each play series is pretty convincing. Hall has not stopped following the Tigers' teams and also could've used a gamecast.
His advice to me, "Don't tell 'em - let them get fired up to win."
Who knows if dusty, contended 32-year-old records matter to a 152-pound 17-year-old staring across at his 250-pound opposition. Baumgartner breathed out a weighted exhale after his team's 14-12 upset win, Saturday against Byers, to earn the long-awaited trip to the semis. He told his team the win came down to "guts, determination, grit and a whole lotta intensity." They could now briefly revel in making Hayden history.
There is no asterisk next to this win. These kids and hundreds of Hayden residents, families and friends will remember the big plays from this one "in the books" for decades to come.
But who knows, maybe another historical "first" - and the thought of pioneering a trip to the title game - could help push this driven group to another gutsy win.