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Dave Shively

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Hayden at home

Tigers secure No. 8 seed, host Sargent on Saturday

Hayden's Russell Waugh runs into two Grand Valley defensive players during the Tigers' first and only loss of the season. The Tigers are the No. 8 seed in the Class 1A playoffs and will host Sargent in a first-round game Saturday.

— Hayden’s 21-0 victory against Meeker on Friday helped the Tigers secure an automatic berth into the Colorado High School Activities Association’s 16-team Class 1A playoff bracket.

Tigers coach Shawn Baumgartner thought his team would be seeded somewhere between seventh and 10th when the playoff bracket was determined this weekend. He told his players they had a 50 percent chance of getting to play at home in the first round.

Baumgartner was pleasantly surprised Sunday to learn the Tigers were awarded the No. 8 seed and the final home field spot. Hayden will face No. 9 Sargent (Monte Vista) at 1 p.m. Saturday in Hayden.

Both teams share identical 8-1 records. The only common opponent for Hayden and Sargent is Dolores, whom Hayden beat 21-6, and Sargent beat 14-6. The Sargent Farmers are coming off a 28-0 loss at home to Southern Peaks Conference champion Del Norte – the No. 4-ranked team whose only loss of the season was to Dolores.

The winner of the Hayden-Sargent game will face the winner of No. 1 seed Limon and No. 16 seed Sanford in the second round.

A Tigers victory likely would pit them in a tough quarterfinal challenge against Limon, the 9-0 South Central Conference champions and three-time defending state champions.

“The No. 1 thing is to get in, then hopefully host a home game,” Baumgartner said about the postseason. “It’s great if you win the first round, but (the initial seeding) doesn’t matter because there’s only eight teams left, so you’re going to play someone in the top four.”

Because of its Oct. 13 win against Hayden, Western Slope League co-champion Grand Valley secured a higher seed (No. 6) than Hayden, but it has a potentially more difficult pairing against Wray, which finished third in the competitive North Central Conference.

CHSAA assistant commissioner Bert Borgmann said this is the first year that 1A bracket positions have not been predetermined. Instead, the top two or three teams from Class 1A’s five conferences received automatic bids, and the seeding committee determined the remaining four spots.

The new process awarded Grand Valley and Hayden the Western Slope’s two automatic seeds and allowed Meeker (12th seed) and Paonia (13th seed) to slide in by the discretion of Sunday’s committee meeting.

– To reach Dave Shively, call 871-4253

or e-mail dshively@steamboatpilot.com