2009 football schedule
Friday vs. Coal Ridge, 7 p.m.
Sept. 11 at Roaring Fork, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 18 at Grand Valley, 7 p.m.
Sept. 21 JV at Meeker, 5 p.m.
Sept. 26 vs. Dolores, at Delta, 5 p.m.
Oct. 2 vs. Paonia, 7 p.m.
Oct. 9 at Rangely, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 16 vs. Hotchkiss, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 23 vs. Meeker, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 30 at West Grand, 7 p.m.
A year ago, the Hayden High School football team entered the season as one of the favorites to win the Western Slope League, and for good reason.
The squad returned many of its most dynamic players, including all-everything running back Coy Letlow.
But they stumbled, particularly in road games, and finished with a frustrating and playoff-less 5-4 record.
Coach Shawn Baumgartner said that's all in the past, though, and as practices have gotten under way in Hayden, everything feels new again.
"We're not a young team because we're starting mostly juniors and sophomores, but we're an untested team," Baumgartner said. "It's just a matter of time to get things rolling and clicking. We'll get some experience under our belt and see how we progress through the season."
Plenty of questions remain about exactly what kind of team will emerge after those starters get their feet wet.
Senior tailback Jake Walker was set to be one of the team's few returning starters. One of the premier sprinters in Class 2A in the state, he made a smooth transition into the backfield last year. He's currently sidelined, however, having had his appendix taken out last week.
Coaches are having a hard time deciding where to play the only other returning starter, Treyben Letlow.
The junior towers over most of his classmates at 6-feet, 4 inches, and weighs in at 220 pounds. You couldn't draw a more ideal high school tight end, but Baumgartner said there's been some debate as how to best use that size and quickness.
"We've looked at him at fullback just because he's such a great blocking tight end," Baumgartner said. "We've even looked at him at tailback.
"At tight end, he's definitely someone you can center stuff around. He's got some speed on him, and he's got the frame, the size and the great footwork. He can get outside and catch the ball."
One area of stability, Baumgartner said, has been quarterback.
Junior Graig Medvesk has nailed down the position, taking over for the graduated Mitch Doolin.
Medvesk isn't a newcomer under center. He played about two series in each game last year as quarterback.
At the time, that commitment was a way to help Hayden hedge its bets - to have an option ready if anything happened to Doolin.
Now, it looks like a wise investment.
"For him to be able to see how fast things moved last year, that really helped him," Baumgartner said. "He knows now. He's been there. He can take control on the field and in the huddle. It gave him that little bit of game experience he can now rely on going into this year."
The Tigers won't waste any time trying out their new lineup. The squad opens its season at 7 p.m. Friday at home against Coal Ridge.