Hayden quarterback Mark Doolin rushes for a touchdown against Belleview Christian in Hayden’s first 8-man football game in August. At 1 p.m. Saturday, Hayden hosts Simla in a cross-divisional game.

Joel Reichenberger / Courtesy

Hayden quarterback Mark Doolin rushes for a touchdown against Belleview Christian in Hayden’s first 8-man football game in August. At 1 p.m. Saturday, Hayden hosts Simla in a cross-divisional game.

Hayden football team preps for crossover game

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Hayden football vs. Simla in crossover game

  • Saturday, October 27, 2012, 1 p.m.
  • Hayden High School, 495 W. Jefferson Ave., Hayden, CO
  • Not available

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— There seems to be a sense across Routt County and the East-Central 8-man football league that this weekend is about more than four games.

It’s a little about respect.

The East-Central typically is viewed as a second-tier conference, and the numbers back that up. In the previous two years, when the top four teams from one league match up with the top four from another, the East-Central is a whopping 0-8, struggling to gain any relevance on the statewide 8-man scene.

“We’ve got to play better people and win some,” West Grand coach Chris Brown said. “It’s one thing to play them and play them close. But you got to start beating them.”

There certainly is a chance for that to happen this weekend.

League winner West Grand, at least on paper, should beat Pikes Peak Christian. Second-seeded Hayden has a good chance against Simla, and third-seeded Rangely, which plays Kiowa, has been the hottest team in the league.

Hayden hosts Simla at 1 p.m. Saturday.

“Us being new to this whole system, I’ve talked to coach Brown at West Grand and coach (David) Bruner at Soroco, who have represented in the playoffs,” Tigers coach Shawn Baumgartner said. “We’d love to have that opportunity as one of those teams to represent that. It would be a huge step for this league.”

In Simla, Baumgartner finds a team that loves to run the ball. Simla gained more than 275 yards a game on the ground in the regular season, finishing third in the league.

The two teams have one common opponent in West Grand. Simla beat West Grand, 42-22, and Hayden lost, 32-28.

Brown, who has been at West Grand for more than 30 years, said the Hayden-Simla game likely will come down to which team is tougher.

“That game is going to be a battle,” he said. “Hayden’s got them at home. Simla will come out and hit you. It’s going to be a good game.”

The winners of the crossover games are placed in a 16-team playoff bracket. Baumgartner said for Hayden to win, the team would have to stop the running game and limit its turnovers.

In Hayden’s two losses this year, turnovers turned out to be the difference.

“It’s a good challenge for us,” he said. “I think we traditionally have been a physical team. Our kids have always done a good job of taking that next step. That’s something we expect on Saturday, as well.”

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com

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