Hayden, John Mall square off in first-round playoffs

— It will be a contrast of styles when Hayden and John Mall high schools meet in the first round of the 1A football playoffs.
The Tigers will be traveling to Walsenburg to take on the Panthers. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. Saturday.
The Tigers, the runners-up in the Western Slope League, will be taking on the Panthers, who won the West Central Conference title for the first time in 22 years.
Rob Webb, the Panthers' second-year coach, is expecting a competitive football game.
"We are going to try to run the football, and they are going to try and throw the football," Webb said.
Hayden will try to use its strong passing attack led by junior quarterback Kevin Miller to control the football game, said Kevin Kleckler, Hayden's head coach.
"We will try to spread them out and throw the football on them like crazy," he said.
On defense, the Tigers will try to stop the Panthers' strong running game.
John Mall runs out of the wishbone formation and has two strong running backs in senior Jason Wiggins and junior Tyler Quartiero.
The two running backs have combined to rush for 1,600 yards this season, Webb said.
"We try to control the ball and get good field position," he said. "We try to beat people up physically."
The Panthers have 10 seniors on the team, but the offense is led by freshman quarterback Travis McKinzie.
"He has played as well as a freshman could," Webb said. "He has good, strong players around him."
Kleckler believes a key to the game will be the Tigers' ability to stop the Panthers' ground game.
"We are going to try and stack the line to stop them," he said.
Webb is concerned of the speed the Tigers possess on offense.
"They are all real quick," he said. "The quarterback, running back and wide receivers are all fast."
The Tigers' rushing attack is led by senior Josh Giessinger and junior Jacques Denker.
The Tigers' aerial attack is led by senior wide receiver Matt Walden and senior tight end Matt Miner.
Hayden, 5-4, is making its first playoff appearance since 1996. John Mall, 6-3, is making its first postseason appearance since the mid-1980s.
Last year, the Panthers finished with a record of 0-9.
"We have been able to turn things around," Webb said.

To reach Gary E. Salazar call 871-4205 or e-mail gsalazar@amigo.net

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