Hayden football team to face difficult road test

Tigers need win to keep playoff spot

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Past Event

No. 9 Hayden vs. No. 1 Wray quarterfinal game

  • Saturday, November 13, 2010, 1 p.m.
  • Hayden High School, 495 W. Jefferson Ave., Hayden, CO
  • Not available

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— The Class 1A high school football playoffs still are officially two weeks away, but the “win-or-go-home” phase of the season for the Hayden football team started the moment last week’s game against Western Slope League-lead­­ing Hotch­kiss end­ed.

The Bulldogs had beat up the Tigers, keeping alive a perfect record in the league by knocking Hayden out of what had been a tie at first place.

Now, if Hayden is to keep hold of sole possession of second place and the playoff spot sure to come with it, it needs to win a big road game.

The Tigers (3-4) play at 7:30 p.m. today at Meeker (5-2).

“Our goal all year has been to make the playoffs, and winning this game could put us in the drivers seat,” Hayden coach Shawn Baumgartner said. “Our playoffs started Monday after that Hotchkiss game.”

The defining win thus far in Hayden’s season is a 27-21 victory against Paonia, and now the team is hoping that win can help it lock up its first playoff spot in three years.

The Tigers beat up the Eagles in that game by stunting their go-to passing attack, and they’ll have to stop a similarly diverse offense if they’re to beat Meeker.

The Cowboys have moved the ball effectively rushing and passing in their five wins this season. Quarterback Nate Walsh threw for three touchdowns, and the team combined for three more on the ground in last week’s 39-8 demolition of Rangely.

“We did a good job getting to Paonia’s quarterback. He was missing some open receivers, and I think he was feeling our pressure,” Baumgartner said. “We definitely have to do that same thing against Meeker. You can’t let a quarterback stand back there untouched because he’ll pick you apart.”

Meeker did struggle against Paonia, losing, 37-0. Still, Baumgartner said there’s no danger of looking past the Cowboys.

They beat Hayden, 36-7, last year in a season during which they advanced to the state quarterfinals.

They’ve scored at least 39 points in each of the games they’ve won this year.

“They’re tough,” Baumgart­ner said. “This is a big game, and we’re looking forward to it.”

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