Varsity Tigers meet JV Sailors

Aaron Finch, one of Steamboat Springs High School's junior varsity coaches, used to coach the Sailors' middle school team.

He remembers coaching his middle schoolers against some of the same Hayden players his JV team will meet today, when the varsity Tigers and JV Sailors square off at 1 p.m. at Gardner Field.

In Hayden, the Tigers' varsity is made up of talented players who spent little or no time on JV. Players at small schools such as Hayden don't have the luxury of younger players in larger schools such as Steamboat; they often don't have a chance to develop physically and mentally on JV.

"Hayden's junior class is very strong," Finch said. "They were strong last year. I expect this to be one of our more significant challenges this year."

Last year, the Tigers beat the Sailors JV squad 18-0. Hayden enters today's game having defeated Moffat County's JV team 43-6 on Aug. 28.

Steamboat beat Middle Park's JV 42-0 on the same date.

Both teams proved explosive on offense and aggressive on defense in their season openers. The Tigers is the more experienced of the two teams and the favorite to win today, but Hayden coach Shawn Baumgartner isn't taking anything for granted.

"We are taking this as a varsity game," he said.

Hayden and Steamboat will look different than the teams that met a year ago. The Tigers have overhauled their offense to resemble that of the Air Force veer rather than Nebraska's I.

The Sailors, meanwhile, have introduced a more aggressive defensive scheme, but the JV team will keep its stunt assignments simple. Finch knows facing a varsity team is different than squaring off against Middle Park's JV.

He's stressed that to his players as well, and he hopes his freshmen and sophomores are excited about the opportunity.

"We've talked a lot about it this week," Finch said. "When you look at Hayden's roster, there's a kid that's 265 pounds. That's big to freshmen. What we've tried to communicate is that we have a good-sized JV line and fast guys."

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