Hayden takes Coal Ridge season opener
HAYDEN – Not many people in Hayden would expect to chalk up a game that featured a scoreless second half and starting running back Coy Letlow with less than 50 yards as a success.Hayden coach Shawn Baumgartner was the first to scratch his head after the Tigers’ uncharacteristic home opener on Friday night against Class 2A opponent Coal Ridge.”I just can’t put my thumb on it – it was like two different games with two different halves,” Baumgartner said.Fortunately the Tigers caught some breaks and produced enough offense to gain a healthy lead in the first half, then kept the Titans out of the end zone in second for a 26-0 shutout victory.The first break happened after Hayden’s opening possession, a lackluster effort that resulted in a turnover on downs. But Coal Ridge came out a little too amped up, instantly fumbling the ball back into Letlow’s hands.From there, the Tigers mounted their longest scoring drive of the game – 6 plays and 42 yards – started with a 24-yard Sam Kopsa reception and finished by a 1-yard Zathan Bark run.After holding Coal Ridge to a three-and-out, Hayden only needed one play to return to the end zone. The Titan defense stacked the line to blitz, but Russell Waugh took the handoff, cut hard left, threw a mean stiff arm at the lone cornerback and turned on the jets for a 61-yard touchdown.Coal Ridge answered with its own big offensive play of the game. Titan quarterback Keenan Grumley threw Bradley Gasaway a bizarre bounced lateral pass he ran for 40 yards, but another ensuing fumble gave the ball right back to the Tigers.The Coal Ridge defense certainly keyed in on Letlow, who had only three yards until four minutes left in the first half, when he broke through four tackles for Hayden’s hard-earned third touchdown.”Defensively, (Coal Ridge) flew around and they made the right adjustments,” Baumgartner said.But where Letlow was getting caught up, Waugh and Bark at fullback filled in, combining for 215 yards.”I felt good and I thought the line was blocking good,” said Bark, who helped set up a final second quarter scoring drive after a third Coal Ridge fumble that Waugh finished with an 18-yard run.The balanced Hayden run was all but absent from the third quarter, where Coal Ridge inched its way up the field, burning 10 minutes off the clock, as Grumley finally started completing his constant pass attempts.Despite the Coal Ridge offensive surge, Hayden’s defense stood strong in the red zone. With a first down on the Hayden 4-yard line, Braylin Wertenberger sacked Grumley to kill the Titans’ momentum and seal the Tigers’ shutout.Coal Ridge will next host Rangely on Sept. 7 at 7 p.m.
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