Hayden senior Ben Williams lowers his shoulders as Lake County tacklers close around him Friday. The Tigers beat the Panthers, 58-13.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Hayden senior Ben Williams lowers his shoulders as Lake County tacklers close around him Friday. The Tigers beat the Panthers, 58-13.

Hayden football routs Lake County, playoff berth uncertain

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— Even after Friday night’s thorough thrashing of Lake County — the Hayden High School football team racked up a 58-13 home win against the Panthers — Tigers coach Shawn Baumgartner still wasn’t sure.

“As for the playoffs, the seeding committee meets on Sunday morning, and I’ll be hoping to get a phone call,” he said.

That 10 a.m. meeting will seed the 16 teams that make the Class 1A football playoffs — nine automatic qualifiers and seven at-large bids.

Baumgartner thinks his Tigers, 5-4 and alone in second place in the Western Slope Lea­gue, have a pretty good chance.

They certainly made their case Friday night, responding quickly and efficiently against a Lake County squad that, at least in spats, proved feisty.

The Panthers scored first in the game with a 40-yard interception return for a touchdown.

Hayden responded on the kickoff, with senior Treyben Letlow returning it 80 yards to become the first of many seniors to shine on Senior Night.

Hayden already had racked up three more touchdowns — two on long passes from senior quarterback Graig Medvesk to senior wide receiver Dayton Dowling — when Lake County again showed signs of life.

The Panthers drove down the field and scored on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Nick Fed­er­­ico to Brandon Velasquez, pulling within striking distance midway through the second quarter.

But Hayden sophomore Mark Doolin caught a 30-yard pass from Medvesk for a touchdown a minute later. Senior Ryan Romine intercepted a pass on the ensuing possession and returned it to the Lake County 14-yard line, setting up senior Ben Williams to run it in on the next play.

Letlow provided the final blow of the half after Lake Coun­ty bungled the kickoff and had to start a drive at its own 2. The senior defensive stalwart tackled the Panther running back in the end zone for a safety and a 44-13 lead.

That proved enough scoring to keep Hayden’s seniors happy.

“It felt great,” said Dowling, who scored the first two touchdowns of his varsity career on Medvesk’s passes of 38 and 25 yards. “For the first one, I noticed their corner was playing inside of me, so I just sprinted my butt off and sure enough, (Graig) threw it to me. It floated right into my arms. The second one was the same coverage and pretty much the same.

“This might be the last time I ever play on this field. Hopefully it’s not, but it definitely feels good.”

The Tigers called off their varsity players but didn’t stop scoring in the second half. Williams opened the third quarter with a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, and Dakota Zehner enacted the mercy rule by running in a touchdown from one yard out.

Ty Dunckley drilled all nine of his extra point opportunities, helping close out a nearly perfect night for Hayden.

“Graig was throwing the ball real well, and he got a bunch of those deep passes in there,” Williams said. “We could really do whatever we wanted.”

For now, though, the Tigers will wait, in theory to find out if they will play again, but more practically to find out when and where they play next.

If the team is selected, it likely will make a trip to the eastern part of the state and face one of Class 1A’s toughest teams.

The only way the team can play again in Hayden is to win on the road.

“We will have to play some good football,” Williams said. “It will be hard, but we’ve played some tough teams and that’s helped us a lot. We just keep getting better.”

Game statistics

■ Scoring summary

First quarter

LC — 8:03 Randy Mondragon 40-yard interception return. (Alfonso Calderon kick.)

H — 7:49 Treyben Letlow 80-yard kickoff return. (Ty Dunckley kick.)

H — 5:54 Dayton Dowling 38-yard pass from Graig Medvesk. (Dunckley kick.)

H — 3:47 Ryan Domson 8-yard run. (Dunckley kick.)

Second quarter

H — 9:53 Dowling 25-yard pass from Medvesk. (Dunckley kick.)

LC — 6:27 Brandon Velasquez 24-yard pass from Nick Federico. (Kick failed.)

H — 5:24 Mark Doolin 30-yard pass from Medvesk. (Dunckley kick.)

H — 4:17 Ben Williams 14-yard run. (Dunckley kick.)

H — 3:35 Safety

Third quarter

H — 11:44 Williams 90-yard kickoff return. (Dunckley kick.)

H — 6:01 Dakota Zehner 1-yard run. (Dunckley kick.)

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