Friday, November 16, 2007

Hayden has tough task vs. Akron

Hayden has tough task vs. Akron

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The Daily Sentinel

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Hayden High School football team gets a crack at ending one of the state’s longest streaks in the semifinals of the Class A 11-man state playoffs Saturday.

The Tigers (9-2) host defending state champion Akron (11-0), which is riding a 24-game winning streak heading into the 1 p.m. kickoff Saturday in Hayden.

The Rams’ last loss came in the 2005 state championship game against Limon, which is 10-1 this season and plays visiting Wray (8-3) in the other semifinal Saturday.

Akron avenged that loss with a victory in last year’s state title game.

“I think it’s pretty safe to say the community, and the school, is pretty excited this week,” Hayden coach Shawn Baumgartner said.

“I’ve been told (Hayden) reached the semifinals here in 1975, but I am not sure if they played it here or not. This is obviously one of the biggest games played in Hayden in a long time.”

The Tigers stuffed a dive play on a two-point conversion attempt late in the fourth quarter to hold on for a 14-12 victory last Saturday at Byers.

Russell Waugh’s 1-yard touchdown run and Sam Kopsa’s 5-yard touchdown catch were enough for Hayden.

“We knew we were overmatched up front,” Baumgartner said.

“They had guys like 230 pounds and we are about 170, 180. Give our guys credit, they were hitting them hard every play. They made small holes for our backs and we methodically moved the ball down the field, kept it away from Byers.”

Akron hasn’t had a close game since shutting out Wray 14-0 in its fourth game, one of seven shutouts for the Rams this season. They have outscored opponents 434-42 this season.

In a 39-9 loss last week, Peyton scored the first points Akron had given up since Oct. 5.

Eight running backs have run for more than 100 yards for the Rams, led by Joe McKay (1,068 yards, 18 TDs).

Baumgartner said he hasn’t seen Akron’s team speed and intensity matched on tape.

“They are capable of busting a 60-yard run out of the single wing on every play,” he said.

“Our guys have to try to make them take 20 plays to get down the field instead of two. I am reminding our kids that they are still high school kids and if you make them make a lot of plays, they will make a mistake at some point.”

Baumgartner credits Chase Salazer for his team’s improved line play and Waugh’s ability to take some of the rushing load off the shoulders of Coy Letlow (1,300 yards).

• Montrose High School received a boost in its efforts to renovate its football stadium Saturday during its Class 4A playoff loss to Fountain-Fort Carson.

The Montrose Lions Club announced during halftime of the 28-26 loss to the Trojans that it will pledge a total of $5,000 in donations over the next two years.

Sullivan Construction also pledged $1,000.

Expansion of the south bleachers on the home side of the field was completed before Saturday’s game.

The next phases of the project will include replacing wooden seating in the home bleachers with aluminum, construction of a new press box, the addition of heated, outdoor restroom facilities and eventual replacement of the natural grass playing surface with a synthetic surface similar to the one installed this summer at Stocker Stadium.

• Steamboat Springs senior fullback/defensive end Jay Hanley said he is being actively recruited by several NCAA Division I schools.

Hanley told he is receiving the most interest from Kansas State, Colorado, Northwestern, Colorado State, Air Force, Hawaii and Missouri.

He included Big 12 rivals Colorado, Missouri and Kansas State on his list of top choices, but has yet to commit.

He made an unofficial visit to Missouri and has watched games at Colorado and Kansas State this fall.

Over the past two seasons, Hanley rushed for 2,112 yards and 24 TDs.

• Hanley’s high school teammate, Ben DeLine, the state’s top place-kicking recruit in the Class of 2008, has already committed to Colorado State.

He joins Durango defensive tackle Jake Landers (6-4, 270) on the Rams’ list of verbal commitments.

Other in-state commitments for CSU include Grandview linebacker Davis Burl (6-1, 193), Chatfield defensive back Andy Clements (6-1, 195) and Columbine defensive end Ben Tedford (6-6, 220).

• Grand Junction offensive lineman Isaac Valentine took in a game at Northern Colorado this fall.

He said he is in active talks with UNC and Colorado State and is getting interest from Iowa State and Kansas State.
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