Steamboat Springs Hayden-Soroco football, it’s darn good to have you back.
The two Routt County rivals haven’t played since the 2007 season. That year — in 11-man football — Hayden won, 35-12.
The disparity in schools was on full display. Hayden had more than 40 players. Soroco had 14.
But five years later, the two teams will meet for the first time as 8-man schools at 7 p.m. Friday at Hayden.
It also helps that on paper, it’s setting up to be a pretty intriguing game.
Hayden (2-1) has 13 seniors and was ranked No. 6 in the most recent The Denver Post media poll. Soroco (3-0) has been receiving votes.
“It’ll be a fun atmosphere,” Hayden coach Shawn Baumgartner said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to draw both communities that haven’t been out to a football game in awhile.”
Even in such a big game, no one really knows what to expect.
The Tigers proved their place in 8-man football with a narrow loss to No. 1 Dayspring Christian on Sept. 7.
The Rams have played three easy games, outscoring their opponents, 183-6. Most of Soroco's starters haven’t seen the second quarter, let alone the second half.
“One thing is our kids haven’t played the whole game,” Soroco coach David Bruner said. “We have to get the game speed going. That’s one thing we’ve really worked on.”
Judging by the early going, it could be a track meet.
Soroco senior quarterback Nic Paxton has thrown for 513 yards and 12 touchdowns to go along with 235 yards rushing and seven more scores. He’s got weapons all over the field, with three receivers catching at least three touchdown passes.
Hayden is equally as dangerous. The Tigers are led by quarterback Mark Doolin and running back Dan Engle, who scored five touchdowns last week.
“It’s two things for us,” Baumgartner said. “We have to pressure the quarterback and make open field tackles.”
The big question remains: Is Soroco for real? The team hasn’t seen top competition but scored at will. It has a three-year starter in Paxton and the 8-man knowledge of Bruner, the mad scientist of Routt County football.
The winner also will have a leg up on a league title. But all that can come later. For two programs that haven’t met in five years, Friday’s game renews a rivalry that once seem lost.
“It’s going to be fun,” Baumgartner said. “Regardless of sports, Hayden and Soroco have always battled each other.”
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com