Kremmling " Mustangs finish season with defeat at Hayden |

Kremmling " Mustangs finish season with defeat at Hayden

Larry Banman
Sky-Hi Daily News
Grand County, Colorado

Kremmling, Colorado ” The football game between West Grand and Hayden high schools featured two teams with 4-4 records and no chance of entering postseason play.

West Grand entered the game a bit shorthanded, and injuries during the game robbed them of the services of starters Justin Strang, Matt Johnson, Stetson Sabados and Austin Ramirez. As a result, several freshmen and sophomores got extended playing time for the Mustangs.

Playing in front of their home fans, the senior-laden Tigers from Hayden utilized a punishing ground attack to secure a 47-12 victory.

Coy Letlow of Hayden ran for 197 yards, while Logan Foster raced for 121 yards on three carries and Jake Walker ran for 94 yards.

The Mustangs did have an advantage in the air, as Tim Ritschard of West Grand threw for 85 yards and one touchdown and Travis Gore threw a touchdown pass of 39 yards on a halfback option play. Hayden only managed two completions for 14 yards in the game.

West Grand saw its rushing attack come alive in the second half as Connor Widener ran for 74 yards on 15 carries and Gore gained 16 yards on three carries. Chase Hill, who saw extensive action at fullback, gained 10 yards on seven tough carries into the middle of the line.

Drew Klotz took the opening kickoff for West Grand and raced to the 20-yard line. The senior was busy receiving kickoffs on Friday night and he did an outstanding job in his final high school football game.

On the opening drive for the Mustangs, Strang ran the ball on three straight carries. It was a measure of the Hayden defense that the hard-running senior from West Grand was able to net only one yard on the three carries.

After Strang punted the ball to Hayden, the Tigers scored quickly. Mitch Doolin hit Treyben Letlow with a pass that netted nine yards and then Coy Letlow ran for 26 yards on two carries.

On a busted play that saw Doolin initially fumble the ball, the senior quarterback from Hayden was still able to retrieve the ball and race 13 yards for a score. It was also a play that saw the Mustangs lose the services of senior safety Matt Johnson for the evening.

Ty Dunckley, a sophomore lineman and kicker for Hayden hit the PAT and Hayden quickly had a 7-0 lead.

On the next series for West Grand, it was three and out. Despite a great 46-yard punt by Strang, the Tigers were right back in the end zone when, on the second play from scrimmage, Foster rumbled 65 yards for a score. A 6 foot, 1 inch 217 pound fullback and linebacker, Foster transferred from Craig to play his senior season for the Hayden Tigers.

After the Tigers again held the Mustangs without a first down, Hayden scored on a 57-yard drive with Coy Letlow running the ball on five consecutive plays. The senior scored on a 32-yard play. Dunckley missed on this PAT and the score was 20-0, with the game still in the first quarter.

Although the Mustangs failed to earn a first down on the next series, the defense for West Grand started to assert itself a bit on the next drive by the Tigers. Although Foster had a 19-yard run, the Mustangs were able to stop Hayden when they tackled Walker for a 12-yard loss and then Klotz broke up a fourth-down pass. Helping to stop the running attack were seniors Will Elliott and Curtis Frederickson.

On the next offensive series for the Mustangs, Ritschard hit Hill for a five-yard gain, but two Widener runs were stopped cold and West Grand was forced to punt again.

By this time of the game, Strang was reduced to playing only defense and punting.

Hayden’s junior running back Walker, ripped off a 43-yard run with Strang making a touchdown saving tackle. Coy Letlow then ran for 24 yards and scored two plays later on a five-yard run. Dunckley was true with his PAT kick and the score increased to 27-0 in favor of Hayden.

West Grand’s offense showed some life on the next series as Hill ran for five yards on two carries and Widener earned the team’s first first-down of the game with a five yard run. The team earned another first down on a Tiger penalty and things looked a bit more promising as the first half came to a conclusion.

Helping to lead the rushing attack for the Mustangs were senior lineman Elliott and Tyrel Cannon.

The second half started with West Grand kicking off to Hayden. The return specialist for the Tigers ripped off a 45-yard return that saw Sky Handyside make a touchdown-saving tackle in front of the Hayden bench. Coy Letlow took the first handoff from scrimmage and raced 40 yards for his third touchdown of the evening.

Dunckley’s PAT bumped the score to 34-0.

The next offensive series for West Grand started with an incomplete pass and a penalty. However, Widener gained five yards on third down and then, on a fourth-down play, Widener ran for 11 yards and a first down.

Ritschard hit Hill on a five-yard pass and Widener ran for another 10 yards. On his next run, Widener fumbled, but Cody Hartman was at the right place at the right time with a fumble recovery.

Gore earned five yards on a carry with Hill gaining two yards on second down. Ritschard then made a good read on a third down play and ran for five yards and a first down.

On the next play, Ritschard dropped back to pass and found Handyside breaking free in the secondary. Ritschard hit the senior tight end perfectly and Handyside did the rest, racing for a 44-yard score to erase the zero from the scoreboard for West Grand.

The PAT kick by Handyside was wide left and the scoreboard read 34-6 in favor of Hayden.

On the ensuring kickoff, Handyside remained busy as he again made a touchdown saving tackle. Three plays later, Letlow scored again on a 36-yard touchdown run. As he neared the goal line, he attempted to hand the ball back to either lineman Chase Salazar or to his brother Treyben Letlow. It caught them both by surprise and the ball was fumbled into the end zone where Coy Letlow recovered it for his fourth touchdown of the night.

The Mustangs had another good defensive stand and Widener sacked the Hayden quarterback on a fourth-down play.

Hayden scored once more on a drive that saw Foster rumble for a net gain of 40 yards. He ran for about 70 yards, but one of his teammates had an illegal block to bring the ball back to the 30-yard line. Two plays later, Walker scored on a 29-yard run.

On the final drive of the night, the Mustangs scored a touchdown on a 39-yard halfback option pass from Gore to Klotz. The drive also featured a 25-yard pass from Ritschard to Handyside, a 14-yard run by Gore and a five-yard pass from Ritschard to Hartman.

Handyside finished his high school career with two catches for 69 yards and a touchdown. The versatile senior also played a strong game at defensive end, kicked off after Strang was injured and attempted two PAT kicks.

West Grand finished out of the playoffs with its 4-5 record. The wins were all secured in the non-conference schedule and its five losses were in the tough Western Slope League. Three teams from the league, Hotchkiss, Paonia and Meeker qualified for postseason play.

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