- Friday, October 15, 2010, 7 p.m.
- Hayden High School, 495 W. Jefferson Ave., Hayden, CO
Steamboat Springs The Hotchkiss High School football team hasn’t lost a Western Slope Conference game since joining the conference’s Class 1A division more than two years ago.
In fact, only one of the 12 games against conference opponents, games in which the Bulldogs outscored their opponents by an average of 32 points, has even been close.
Still, it’s in last year’s 35-0 loss to the perennially powerful Hotchkiss that Hayden coach Shawn Baumgartner finds confidence, and it’s in today’s 7 p.m. game at Hotchkiss that his Tigers hope to deliver the Bulldogs’ first blemish.
Success also would set Hayden, 3-3 on the season and 2-0 in the Western Slope, on the path for a conference championship.
“We’re the only two undefeated left in the conference, so we’re playing for that opportunity,” Baumgartner said. “We have a big challenge ahead of us, that’s for sure.”
Hotchkiss has slammed its opponents with a fierce split-back veer offense, which can pound a defense up the gut or stretch it wide with quick pitches.
It’s averaged 41 points per game in the past 2 1/2 seasons with the attack, relying on different lead running backs but on just one quarterback.
Ryan Spor began starting as a sophomore and still leads the way. Jaime Rodriguez and Jacobe Galley have taken the reins at running back. They offer a three-headed attack in which each athlete averages more than 10 yards per carry rushing the ball.
But as awesome as that offense is this year, and as awesome as it has been since touching down in Hayden’s neighborhood in 2008, Baumgartner said his team temporarily stopped it in last season’s game.
The score was 8-0 after half as the Tigers played some of their best defense of the season.
They’ll need to find that again tonight.
“We played a great half against them last year,” Baumgartner said. “If we can put together a game, a full game like that, we’re going to be in it.”
That will mean stopping the big plays. Spor threw four passing touchdowns a week ago on just four completions. His 124 yards on the ground came on three carries.
The one first-half touchdown a year ago against Hayden was an 80-yard pass.
Plugging those big leaks and staying alive to punch back could give the Tigers a chance at a 3-0 league record.
“If our defense is sound and solid, we can contain them,” Baumgartner said. “We will have to move the ball offensively. They will be bringing their backers, so we need to keep our heads up to pick up the blitz. If we can do that and give our quarterback time to throw, that will loosen them up, and we can get our running game going.
“We’re definitely excited to go down there and see what happens.”