Coaches should be worried

The revolving door in Colorado for head football coaches was alarming when 18% of 5A football schools had a vacancy in recent days. The coaching carousel has not hit the numbers as in previous seasons but the urgency to fill them is on a slow pace. Many athletic directors are aware that the next hire will define their programs especially with a new 2 year cycle to be ratified on January 25, 2018. For the most part it is a rubber stamp but there are at least 5 schools that are vehemently heated about the conferences namely what has been deemed the “Developmental Conference.” There has been NO empathy from the other 30 schools not in the conference of ten only a sigh of relief they are not in it. Regardless of what happens this Thursday in the CHSAA meetings one thing for sure is Coaches should be worried!

Coaches will be more than ever scrutinized by everyone in the community. If you are a normal parent you are sending your children to the attendance school. However, the pressure at the middle school to play club sports is increasing while playing for your local team colors is dwindling. If your survey parents they are being brain washed to think club sports is more important for recruiting their children. Maybe even believe the hype of trainers to patronize their gym because they are more successful than your high school coaches resources. Perhaps there is a happy medium but currently it is one sided and the pay to be noticed continues while coaches struggle to build team bonding while athletes are at xyz camp or abc trainer because they are being filled with hype at the daily sunshine pump. The people filling are doing it for a reason, MONEY! Lots of MONEY! These are they same people working against the high school coaches and making comments like, “Your coach doesn’t know what it is like to play at a high level” or “You have to train with me to be D1 or you will get nowhere.” Everyone should question if these statements are true but also realize this is at minimum an annual $6,000 dollar question. On average in Colorado families are shelling out $6K to play a club sport or train with a guru. Ofcourse all financed at $495 a month for a 12 month period just like the scandalous gym memberships everyone complains about 2-3 months into the cycle. These sordid activities continue to happen daily as these entities have to make MONEY to pay the bills and earn an income. Meanwhile a top head coach statewide is lucky to make the maximum stipend of $7,000 for the season that pays for a season that is mid August until the first week in November. Roughly 14 weeks if you do not count the off season that has become extremely important in recent years as programs are suffering with participation numbers and games played during the season.

The easy way for parents that run the booster clubs is to do their homework and work with the ADs to make sure athletes are interested in the high school the students are attending. In addition know if the head coach and his staff are genuinely interested in being a part of the community which might include rolling up the sleeves during the 9 month off season. This might include adding a zero hour weight room, speed and agility or football elective class. However, it takes dedication to open that door to the classroom at 6am Monday through Saturday and prepare a plan for success. The days of rolling out the ball in PE or reading a newspaper in the back of the weight room class is over. The modern day players or athletes need more motivation and daily input that should be a free benefit from their high school. However, complacency has occurred and the smugness era is over! 

The reality is if a head coach does not do his job he will be replaced. If not by a club or trainer by the booster club via the AD or the administration namely the principal. Sports has become such a fabric of daily activities that it often molds who we are as a person or community. If you are in a small town or rural area you will see this first hand. It is unfortunate that Denver metropolitan does not do a better job in the media focussing on these such communities. Instead many outlets are selling their souls for advertising dollars and clicks. The investigative reporting is not being done. Instead relying on relationships or a paid advertiser to supply top positional athletes because they are part of their paying clientele that is paying the media outlet and authors bills rather his salary.

Yes do the research and un peel the onion. The readership or viewership audience is getting duped by dependents relying on financial support to validate their services. So now more than ever before Coaches should be worried. Worried for their jobs and perturbed that the chips are being stacked against you by a few challenging your efforts.

The media has a purpose when they do their job. However, in recent years they have relied on Social media and other influences to write or tell their stories. Social media has a benefit if used properly but in some instances more often than not, it is for chest thumping, hype and to bash your school coaches efforts. For many in this new generation it is about the sunshine pump and parents that are willing to pay for these promoted services. In reality the next level coaches DO NOT CARE!

"We don not care what is associated behind your name! It is about character or how you treat your parents when we visit you. It is how you interact with team mates and coaches." - College recruiting coach 1-20-2018

The above reference was when a player asked about how important post season awards were or being on some subscription based service that has a monthly fee. The following was how important it is to have a relationship with your high school administrators, coaches and counsellors.

What is important to us is seeing you in person and talking to your coaches NOT some 3rd person trainer. However, if you play club sports we will watch your film or tournament for athleticism but we know you pay to play so of course the trainers and coaches are going to build you up. That is their job and why you pay them. We might visit a gym on the way to a high school but it is not our primary focus just a courtesy to players in the same way they email us about games they will be playing. We still rely on you high school coaches, teachers and school counsellors. So you might want to save a few bucks and visit us on campus rather than pay some arbitrary service that promises you next level opportunities.

At the end of the day Coaches should be worried or at least threatened by outside entities that browbeat you on a daily basis. The sport of football is headed in the wrong direction but can be resuscitated. Collaborating with area teams will be a start. In time high school football might be a community sport similar to little league where zip codes determine the club not the high school. Yes 3 or 4 area teams might merge into one because of participation numbers and the threat of club sports. A Florida club named IMG has gained popularity and it will just be a matter of time before entrepreneurs figure out a way to make money funding club football statewide and nationally. They have had success with 7 on 7 so tackle football is on the horizon as long as 10 cities decide to field teams similar to IMG. The focus has shifted from leisure to professional.
Meanwhile in Colorado we await to hear the next head coach at traditional powerhouse teams like Mullen and Valor that are seeking a facelift. Athletics is important to their dichotomy but the emphasis on religious values and college preparatory education is a primary concern. The focus as the head into vetting their next selection or face of their football program has more importance than in the past. Again Coaches should be worried about their own in house issues and not so much on exterior. If you have your house in order Coaches should NOT be worried.
Until the season starts best wishes to all in the off season and we will see you on the field or on Twitter As always we will post #BreakingNews on @303Gonzo twitter and facebook.A few dates to circle on the calendar:
January 25, 2018 Football proposal vote
February 7, 2018 1st official day to sign NLI until April
August 6, 2018 proposed start to 2018 Colorado football day 1 practice (No Contact or Pads)
August 23-25, 2018 proposed start to 2018 Colorado football season formerly zero week not called week one.

You are live with Gonzo

In 2015 the radio airwaves were never the same from 10pm to midnight if you were addicted to high school football in Colorado!

For many years I feed local media outlets content without garnering credit but was pleased the kids got attention and their 15 seconds of fame.

So after the usual coffee shop talk and occasional round table discussions at a local eatery a mother sitting at an adjacent table said, “Y’all should do a radio show. We come here every week hoping to overhear your insights. It would be nice if we could interact with you. Even submit ideas for discussion.” Of course we were flattered and I said that takes a lot of time and effort to talk on air for 2 or 3 hours. Her response was, “maybe but we are so tired of hearing about the Denver Broncos and there is no coverage after our games and the subscription website is far from the truth.” So on that night the dynamics of “You are live with Gonzo” began as the next few days were pitching a radio show to local outlets which was a task. Had we been more forward thinking it would have been a podcast as it has become today. The FM guys liked the idea but said we would rather play our national feed after 9pm until 8am and probably still do plat the same boring and have the same low ratings.

303Gonzo.com

But we were excited when an AM station got wind of our idea and within a few days in late June of covering 7 on 7 football the format wast pitched and the show would go live during zero week and be a smash hit for 4 weeks only to be thrust into the limelight and eventually move over to FM and an app. The show was well received and in our move to FM we were able to go live at a remote location and invite guests to appear and go on air.

The Friday night lights got a little better as Wingstop was the location from 9:30pm to midnight as we took center stage after games and our fans could join us. The beauty was not many places cater to the youth after 8pm and we were a hit as we went live recapping highlights of the games all of us covered on Thursday and Fridays. We even previewed Saturday games and fill time spouting out scores of all the action statewide so we could get the athletes in a seat to put them live on the air or juggle the phone lines to cue up the next series of topics and events. Fridays were about the kids and their accomplishments on the night. It was an opportunity for people attending one game to hear about3-4 on a Thursday night to 5 or 6 on a Friday night plus all the callers recanting their night of action. Again this show was about the kids and their families which is different than interviewing a coach. Yes we value coaches but it is often the excitement of the kids we captured and continue to do so on a regular basis. Our approach continues to be about the 11 on each side of the ball not just the skill positional players like many report on because they view online statistics and rarely attend games. So Fridays wold never be the same moving forward as technology propelled us to ditch the radio for podcasts and periscope. In the early goings a rival to periscope was limited to android and eventually gave way to periscope that was purchased by twitter. Twitter had been our best social media platform followed by facebook for parents to instant message and kids to DM.

The ability to be mobile allowed us to go LIVE seconds after games and capture the excitement and joys of players on the field. Also we were again blessed Wingstop chose to support the LIVE coverage and post game #POTG (Player Of The Game) award. Click to see the 2017 Live recaps of nightly recipients. Every week there was a new star born but also some familiar faces from seasons past. If you were a regular of the show you knew about #GWL THE (GonzoWatchList) a feature of players that shined more than once over a period of time and games. Also they may have been Freshmen or JV players we caught on Fridays or Saturdays prior to Varsity games. Yes we watched several Freshmen games at 4pm on Fridays prior to Varsity Friday night lights. Even a few 10am games on Saturday prior to 1pm Varsity games. So when we state “WE KNOW #copreps Football” it goes without saying we watch a lot of football.

In addition to viewing live games there were a handful on streaming outlets and broadcast TV. So just like a coach post game watching HUDL, Gonzo would watch a plethora of games to stay abreast of the night and the players that stood out. Therefore Knowing the landscape of football statewide is tough and you need good partners that do it for the correct reasons. So as we reflect on the last few years of success we want to Thank the many in our network that rolled up the sleeves to watch a handful of games all because they believed in helping kids and did it on their dime. No one was paid or uploaded content for clicks or sold memberships, subscriptions or anything to open your wallets. It was for the love of the game and Friday night addictions to good old Colorado high school football.

So when you see a rant on twitter or questioning of another article, list or game recap you will know its being argued by someone that knows his facts and not jaded to sell periodicals or training or online content. The passion and enthusiasm is to give people an honest and quality assessment and not play favoritism to a small group of athletes because they sponsor your content. That is unfair preferential treatment and why we do what we do. Again there are 7 classifications in Colorado and until there is more focus on statewide activities or players and not just a handful of teams  by other media outlets it would be safe to say we do our best with our collaborating team members to state, “WE KNOW #copreps Football!” We challenge others to collaborate to make the coverage better and not biased!

www.cofridaynightlights.com/

We are hoping to schedule or pre book dates for game of the week once the proposal in January is ratified and game schedules are released. The season is scheduled to do away with zero week in favor of 11 straight weeks with a bye. Until then all we can say is we will be hitting the fields Thursday, Friday and Saturday until the season concludes in December and Championship Saturday.

Until the season starts best wishes to all in the off season and we will see you on the field or on Twitter As always we will post #BreakingNews on @303Gonzo twitter and facebook.A few dates to circle on the calendar:
January 25, 2018 Football proposal vote
February 7, 2018 1st official day to sign NLI until April
August 6, 2018 proposed start to 2018 Colorado football day 1 practice (No Contact or Pads)
August 23-25, 2018 proposed start to 2018 Colorado football season formerly zero week not called week one.

Not enough A’s

Not enough A’s sounds ambiguous when you are talking with parents of athletes. On the collegiate level it most likely means your student did not obtain the necessary grades needed for admissions. Thus affecting your GPA and perhaps your college board exams if you were not a good student.

Conversely, Not enough A’s  is what naive parents say when jockeying their athletes to area high school programs. In Colorado the big dog classification is 5A. It should be noted all 7 classifications are based on enrollment and it it easy for a school to play up but a challenge to play down. With this all being said, 5A is not what it once was or currently is moving forward. The pinnacle of Colorado is said to have been 1990-1993 when the 6A classification existed and it was a powerful league that featured many DPS schools. These are some of the same schools in the upcoming proposal that are being forced into a developmental conference. So the landscape has changed as the state has expanded or sprawled outward and many more schools exist.

So when statements are made that I am not going to a 3A or 4A school because 5A is better is fairly false. The competition is not necessarily better or the coaching is at a higher level, it is just that these schools because of enrollment are forced to play in that classification. In my humble opinion the better weekly competition was at the lower levels and 5A has been overrated because the same teams are winning and in the process development at the lower levels have suffered tremendously statewide. So we have favored the winning teams and the few media that cover sports over sensationalize the winning programs to the point everyone thinks those are the best programs. So yes there are 4-5 teams in 5A that have numbers and depth and another 3-4 that have athletes if they reamain healthy can compete. However, it is the additional 30+ teams that have no shot unless they play like competition and eventually build a winning culture and retain attendance area kids. Thus when you have over 100 kids in your program it is tough to get the necessary game reps and you have to wait until your senior season to play. On the other hand at some schools that have 35 Varsity players it becomes much easier to get reps over the course of time because of limited participation. The later is true of many lower classifications. Rosters are thin meaning you get more playing time and in some instances are in a better position to succeed by playing iron man football by playing both ways.

Playing two ways is what is a must for many to survive and we have seen that recently in 5A. Defensive backs become wide receivers, linebackers to the offensive line and quarterbacks to safety. So when it is all said and done a college coach might pass on 5A knowing he can see a two way player and might be able to develop then at the next level versus a one dimensional guy at 5A. So again Not enough A’s is an argument many can have but I do know the lower level coaches have a lot of passion and desire to succeed. Some coaches feel handicapped when competing in the same attendance area  but more often than not they try a little harder than most 5A coaches. 5A has been spoiled by television and gate revenues that they can hire additional coaches or have the fancy tools like sideline video, drones or apps. Whereas, some are like me with a big chief tablet and crayons doing it old school. Not really but you get the jest. Everyone does something a little different so my advice to parents is to interview your coaches, teacher and school principal. If you like them you will enjoy the 4 year ride. After all the goal is to graduate high school to obtain a college education. Somewhere along the path we emphasized athletics rather than A’s in the classroom. So the next time you say or hear Not enough A’s it better be on that transcript and not the classification you are playing.

Also if you are tracking @303Gonzo on twitter you will notice a 3A QB just verbally committed to CU and was a national recruit. There are many other success stories. So do your homework and get after it in the classroom and in the weight room and go compete as nothing is given, its earned!

Until the season starts best wishes to all in the off season and we will see you on the field or on Twitter As always we will post #BreakingNews on @303Gonzo twitter and facebook.A few dates to circle on the calendar:
January 25, 2018 Football proposal vote
February 7, 2018 1st official day to sign NLI until April
August 6, 2018 proposed start to 2018 Colorado football day 1 practice

New Blood!? UPDATED

2018 has stirred up more controversy as head coaches are being announced. In 2016 and 2017 all the coaches that stepped down or may have been forced into retirement all had one common theme; “It is time for New Blood!” However, based on early returns it seems like the Athletic directors and/or football committees are in an old school mode of recycle. It might be easier to hire someone with experience but like in the corporate world if something is not working why would you bargain hunt for a new CEO to turn your business or program around. That is generally the million dollar question that if vetted properly you will get a rising star. Remember we are talking about the millennials born into the ipad generation and instant gratification or clicks. So they desire modern placation. In Colorado there were/are over two dozen head coaching jobs available with the focus on 6 5A positions. Many have pointed out the new hires have loosing records but as often is the case familiarity trumps new blood. Case in point Mark Robinson of Highlands Ranch left the Falcons with David May as the interim HC only to be filled by veteran John Trahan. So an opportunity for new blood was squandered. However,  to Trahans credit he did rebuild the now FNE formerly known as Montbello program and played a plethora of sophomores at Smoky Hill last season. So Trahan leaves a team in Smoky Hill that was exiled to the proposed conference of 10 to a Falcons team loaded and arguably a top 5 team headed into August. His job will now be to focus on the zero hour weight room and after school programs to get familiar with his team and establish a relationship with new coaches. As of yesterday it is unknown how many Smoky coaches will make the trek to Highlands Ranch. Issue is the teachers on staff have an 8:30 to 3:30 school bell schedule that may prohibit a move with Trahan. Given the 4 game slide to end the Falcons 2017 season it will be interesting to see whom is retained from a Falcons staff that has been a revolving door the past two seasons after the initial Robinson hires,

SCHOOL CLASS OUT IN
Aspen 2A Karson Pike
Arapahoe 5A Mike Campbell
Aurora Central 4A Jamarr Kerney Austin Able
Centaurus 3A Bob Carskie
Colorado Deaf & Blind 6-man Darrell Shular
Denver North 3A Nick Trombetta
Eaglecrest 5A Mike Schmitt
Ellicott 1A Donte’ Stewart
Englewood 2A Jay Graves  1/17/18
Evergreen 3A Rob Molholm
Faith Christian 2A Ralph Nance
Falcon 3A Terry Poirier
Highlands Ranch 5A David May (interim) John Trahan
Liberty 4A Marc Sites
Mullen 5A Tom Thenell
Northfield 3A Open Ahmad Lowe
Riverdale Ridge 2A Open
Prospect Ridge 2A John Roberts Michael Storer
Sand Creek 3A David Ramirez
Sanford 8-man Rhett Larsen
Sangre de Cristo 8-man Emmanuel Nwabuonwu
Smoky Hill 5A John Trahan
The Pinnacle 1A Marcus Dow
Thornton 4A Dorian Cagaanan Nick Trombetta
Valor Christian 5A Rod Sherman

Ahmad Lowe was a great hire for Northfield as he spent time building that program so that is a natural fit. Ironic he was on staff at Mullen during the rebuilding years 6 seasons ago and now they are hiring a new leader.

Austin Able is someone who put in journey time and has been rewarded as the new face of Aurora Central that was thrust into 5A and will now make 4A home again where they enjoyed success.

Meanwhile Englewood is set to hire a coach today and our crystal ball says its…
Yeah right we do not predict but are 99.9% sure who it is and until the ink hits the paper or a tweet or a press conference we do not speculate but expect another recent HC in the news to take over 2A Englewood. Again many programs are not willing to gamble on new blood and in 2A it is a whole new ballgame. Lower participation numbers that force coaches to be creative and play guys two ways. So conditioning will be a must sooner than later as participation numbers are down while club sports, trainers and recruiting businesses are on the rise.
Mullen will be interesting as a tweet went viral saying

“We want Bielat” who has been an assistant on the Mustangs coaching staff the past 4 seasons. Scott is the son of Michigan State star Larry Bielat and has a son graduating from Mullen in May. So why not hire a guy that knows the program and has no dog in the fight!? I guess time will tell if its another gun for hire or recycled coach or possibly someone that cares for the kids and the community at 3601 S Lowell BLVD.
Lost in the shuffle for both athletes, coaches and parents is academia. YES good old fashion high college board exams like the ACT and SAT combined with a GPA that mirrors an ultimate 40 yard combine dash of a 4.40. Anyway the sport will go on for a few more years until the club sport entities figure out an independent existence to charge families $6K like many other high school sports gone the club route.
For those of you following the coaching carousel here is the most recent changes by classification. Note this does not include programs that may DROP the sport of football in the fall. That announcement usually comes in the final days of August before forfeits become reality in September.

Ellicott 1A Donte’ Stewart
The Pinnacle 1A Marcus Dow
Aspen 2A Karson Pike
Englewood 2A Jay Graves
Faith Christian 2A Ralph Nance
Riverdale Ridge 2A Open
Prospect Ridge 2A John Roberts Michael Storer
Centaurus 3A Bob Carskie
Denver North 3A Nick Trombetta
Evergreen 3A Rob Molholm
Falcon 3A Terry Poirier
Northfield 3A Open Ahmad Lowe
Sand Creek 3A David Ramirez
Aurora Central 4A Jamarr Kerney Austin Able
Liberty 4A Marc Sites
Thornton 4A Dorian Cagaanan Nick Trombetta
Arapahoe 5A Mike Campbell
Eaglecrest 5A Mike Schmitt
Highlands Ranch 5A David May (interim) John Trahan
Mullen 5A Tom Thenell
Smoky Hill 5A John Trahan
Valor Christian 5A Rod Sherman
Colorado Deaf & Blind 6-man Darrell Shular
Sanford 8-man Rhett Larsen
Sangre de Cristo 8-man Emmanuel Nwabuonwu

There are plenty of teams that should have requested a drop to 4A rather than be forced into the proposed pit of misery called the conference of 10 in the soon to be voted on 2 year cycle. At least 5 teams are steaming like a demon but hey, its about attendance numbers not the health of the game. Speaking of healthy football both Pomona and Valor are 2 of a handful of teams unable to fill out their non conference schedules locally. So we are entering the Cup cake phase of football after the waterfall. 5A football is going to look way different in 2018 with 6 new head coaches and again I will make the argument both 3A and 4A are more competitive on a weekly basis.
PS
I mentioned the class of 2019 has the best talent in years. Well 2 locals have committed to stay and play. Look for Junior days to attract a few more come February. Perhaps we will finally see a local team sign 6-8 locals as there are 25 plus 2019 graduates making noise out of state with offers and official visits planned April to June.

Until the season starts best wishes to all in the off season and we will see you on the field or on Twitter As always we will post #BreakingNews on @303Gonzo twitter and facebook.A few dates to circle on the calendar:
January 25, 2018 Football proposal vote
February 7, 2018 1st official day to sign NLI until April
August 6, 2018 proposed start to 2018 Colorado football day 1 practice


UPDATED

Ellicott 1A Donte’ Stewart
The Pinnacle 1A Marcus Dow
Aspen 2A Karson Pike
Englewood 2A Jay Graves Mike Campbell
Faith Christian 2A Ralph Nance
Riverdale Ridge 2A Open
Prospect Ridge 2A John Roberts Michael Storer
Centaurus 3A Bob Carskie
Denver North 3A Nick Trombetta
Evergreen 3A Rob Molholm
Falcon 3A Terry Poirier
Northfield 3A Open Ahmad Lowe
Sand Creek 3A David Ramirez
Aurora Central 4A Jamarr Kerney Austin Able
Liberty 4A Marc Sites
Thornton 4A Dorian Cagaanan Nick Trombetta
Arapahoe 5A Mike Campbell
Castle View 5A Dustin Pfeiffer
Eaglecrest 5A Mike Schmitt Dustin Delaney
Highlands Ranch 5A David May (interim) John Trahan
Mullen 5A Tom Thenell
Smoky Hill 5A John Trahan
Valor Christian 5A Rod Sherman
Colorado Deaf & Blind 6-man Darrell Shular
Sanford 8-man Rhett Larsen
Sangre de Cristo 8-man Emmanuel Nwabuonwu

Ty Evans commits

January 15, 2018 was a day many kids had the day off to celebrate MLK Day. However, 3A Palmer Ridge QB Ty Evans had other plans. The 2019 graduate went up to Boulder, Colorado to visit the Colorado Buffaloes coaches and make a childhood dream reality.


Evans will be the second local product to give his verbal to the CU Buffs as Josiah Davis has the honor of being the first in 2019.

That’s the plan! - Ty Evans

We reached out to Evans, a long time #GonzoWatchList player and he said, Early enroll is the plan similar to Ray Robinson of 2018 last week. So the Early Signing Period will again be interesting in late December.
Q: What was the main reason that you committed to CU today?
A: “It has always been what my gut has told me to do.”

Until the season starts best wishes to all in the off season and we will see you on the field.A few dates to circle on the calendar:
January 25, 2018 Football proposal vote
February 7, 2018 1st official day to sign NLI until April
August 6, 2018 proposed start to 2018 Colorado football day 1 practice

15% Unemployment in 5A #copreps

The 2018 year is upon us and in Colorado high school football the highest classification has a 15% unemployment rate at its highest classification of 5A. In case you are not familiar with the coaches carousel the following schools are with out a head coach:
Arapahoe
Campbell moving on and multiple candidates
Eaglecrest
Down to 2 coaches
Highlands Ranch
Down to 2 coaches
JK Mullen
Thenell moving on and an inside staff member may be the front runner as a national search occurs
Smoky Hill
Trying to make a splash hire but an internal coach may be the result
Valor Christian
a national search started on day 1 but a few locals could be interviewd

So 6 of the 40 proposed 2018 5A teams are without a leader heading into the MLK weekend and a few big names have surfaced in the past two weeks. While many that follow the sport know participation is down and lets face it so is the level of play. Many coaches at all levels are lucky to have two dozen players to field on game day. The days of 60-80 Freshmen to develop over time is more like 18-24 which sounds appealing but many teams are cancelling low level games at FR and JV levels. JV has been hit hard because no one takes that level very serious otherwise 2 year cycles would be based on JV records but you are lucky to see box scores on those games and accurate rosters which is flat out lazy. So unless you have the @303Gonzo mantra of success breeds success you will continue to see Shitty match ups and decreasing participation! After all who wants to play for a coaching staff that does not pay attention to details or develop their 2’s and 3’s, #8 on the chart. See the chart of what coaches should focus on:Both 19 and 20 are very challenging but number 1 is often overlooked at the lower levels. If your team does not have bonding activities throughout the year your team is in trouble. OTAs and the weight room are just a few examples on building team.  During the season it is the team meals that should be weekly and if they are not you do not have a team atmosphere. In addition the film study sessions or weight room on Saturdays should be where breakfast is served so players show up and get fed while watching film and fuel their bodies for the weight room.

Anyway the fact remains you will see a few coaches that resigned their current post to be at another school because the grass is always greener.

While 5A remains the dominate discussed classification, any football fan must admire the lower levels. 6man to 2A whom  are used to low numbers but put in a lot of work getting guys and some gals ready year around. So when you see a coach move down in classifications do not think it is a slam dunk. Actually the guys that bump up are more successful.  Blair Hubbard moving from Faith  Lutheran to Parker Lutheran to Broomfield has been a success story. Conversely,  Lance Vieira  of  2A Bishop Machebeuf went from a 5A Regis Jesuit to 2A and a total roster of 31 players at all levels. The team was 8-1 and lost in round one of the playoffs to finish 8-2.
Heading into 2018 it is almost inevitable many programs will have to be game ready come late August for game one as well as game 10 in November. The top 8 teams in 5A, if the proposal is passed, will get a bye week. So your traditional heavy weights will gain much needed rest that will favor them in round 2 games. While Pomona, Valor and Mullen have played guys both ways in recent years look for many more to be forced as Offensive and defensive linemen are a premium and skilled players a dime a dozen. So 2018 and 2019 will be, Wheres the beef? Examine many rosters, if data has been properly input, then note there are not many players north of 200 pounds and definitely not manny over 220-230.
So it was easy to make a way too early top 5 in 5A rankings.


When you examine the rosters Columbine is loaded and has had success the past three years at the lower levels. CC is stacked with regional talents and the current freshmen and sophomores never lost a FR or JV game. Pomona just reloads and plays guys both ways and has a dedicated coaching staff and parental booster club. Eaglecrest was the runner up and needs to replace 5-6 total starters as does Highlands Ranch that have a loaded 2019 graduating class. As for the rest its all in the air but both Mullen and Valor will be strong but not dominate as they were the past 3 seasons.On the tail end Grandview and Regis will be competing for the same area talents and will be looking for a quarterback to lead them in 2018. So 5A is really a crap shoot this early as some teams are seeking coaches while others are trying to protect their middle school feeder programs as open enrollment has killed many programs.
So we have a really good insight to who will be coaching 4 of the 6 5A schools and even a few 2A. Please stay tuned January 16-19, 2018. As always we will post #BreakingNews on@303Gonzo twitter and facebook.
We we will see you on the field.
A few dates to circle on the calendar:
January 25, 2018 New 2 year cycle vote for football proposal
February 7, 2018 1st official day to sign NLI until April
May 1, 2018 First day incoming 8th graders can participate in OTAs
May 29, 2018 is the current earliest possible official start to summer 10 day camps
August 6, 2018 proposed start to 2018 Colorado football day 1 practice

JK Mullen HC & Alumnus steps down

The Mustangs have separated ways as Tommy Thenell has stepped down as Head Coach of Mullen football. The announcement on Tuesday was know in certain circles but verbalized to the Mustang players in the afternoon about 3:02 pm MST.

Tom is the oldest of the Thenell men that graduated from Mullen in 1980 and always has a competitive spirit on and off the field. Thenell, a quarterback went on to play for the  Colorado State Rams in Fort Collins after being a part of  the Mustangs’ state-title teams  from 1978-79 and his brother Chuck won another in 1980. The banners fly high at Brother Bernard de la salle stadium the football home of Mullen athletics.

Mullen High School is a Catholic, Lasallian college preparatory school founded in 1931. Mullen belongs to one of the largest educational networks in the world and boasts about its five Lasallian Core Principles.

The football program was resurrected in 2012 when Thenell brought a few alumni back to coach the team in year one. In game one on national television the Mustangs travelled to Valor  and gave the Eagles its first ever 5A loss 14-13 in front of a sold out crowd to watch junior C. Mccaffrey (#5) McCaffey was held to 31 yards rushing and 20 yards receiving for 51 total yards on the night. The team suffered some injuries and ended up 6-5 in 2012. Meanwhile in 2013 a freshmen heavy varsity club went 3-7 that eventually netted several D1 athletes on signing day 2017. The 2014 sophomore heavy club went 4-6. Eventually the 2015 team went 7-4 by beat Rocky Mountain in the playoffs to advance and loose to Cherry Creek the following week. The  2016 team was the most successful going 9-3 but again fell in round 2 to rival Cherry Creek. This team produced many next level athletes and was led by Tanner Clem, Christian Cumber and Marcus McElroy II that are in Fort Collins as CSU Rams. The eventual final year of Thenell in 2017 would finish 5-6 and loose in round one to Rival Regis Jesuit in a rematch of arguably the best high school football game in years when RJ allowed Mullen to win 40-39 after leading 33-14. The game was 39-26 with about a minute and 2 seconds left. RJ opted to pass and it was intercepted by Mullen that led to a touchdown with a good PAT. On the ensuing kickoff the Mustangs recovered and 3 plays later put it into the end zone and brought in PAT kicker Vincenzo Saurini to seal the victory and disrupt the RJ mojo as that was the Raiders only loss in the regular season.

On early signing day December 20th, 2017 Thenell and his Mustangs coaching staff would see talents like Adrian Jackson sign with the Oregon Ducks and both A’jon Vivens and Florian Mccann iii sign with the CSU Rams.

So 2018 might be a year of change as the new 2 year cycle proposal is being voted on but currently in 5A, 6 teams will be hiring new head coaches in the near future. Mullen will be in good shape as they have a nucleus of Dominic Depizzol at QB,  Wind Henderson WR, Damien Cearns RB and arguably the BEST DT in Aidan Ikaika keanaaina along side DBs Vaughnn Stitt and Jason Franco who doubles as a WR. While it might be shaky in Mustangville it is apparent a few might want to stay in house.


Scott Bielat has been with Mullen for 4 years and knows his players. His son Jake Bielat will graduate in May to play baseball at the next level. So he might have some spare time on his hands and knows the system. Time will tell as many will have to digest the news and anticipate the powers of authority will examine their options. However, there are multiple schools seeking new coaches and Mullen is now the 6th 5A program seeking a new frontman.

Apparently hanging up the whistle and passing on the baton is the direction of many programs. Arapahoe, Eaglecrest, Highlands Ranch, Mullen, Smoky Hill and Valor are all vacant.

We we will see you on the field.
A few dates to circle on the calendar:
January 25, 2018 New 2 year cycle vote for football proposal
February 7, 2018 1st official day to sign NLI until April
May 1, 2018 First day incoming 8th graders can participate in OTAs
May 29, 2018  is the current earliest possible official start to summer 10 day camps
August 6, 2018 proposed start to 2018 Colorado football day 1 practice

Build an F’ing team!

It is always nice to have a holiday break and mingle with family, friends and football families that include former local area coaches. Some of the olde dudes know their stuff.

Whether or not we are talking the Denver Broncos or numerous high school coaches the same sentiment is build a ducking team! In the late 50's we hoped the farm boys could bend over and get up to block the big boys opposite of them. In the late 70's and 80' we had to worry about the DPS league who started to have some serious skill. Eventually the DPS was dismantled by crafty coaches recruiting them for personal gain. Hell boy recruiting has been the landscape for nearly 40 years. Just look at Jefferson County in the late 90's as the North Denver metro was disrupted as area talents went to one school and then again in the 2000's in the South West schools. Now people are shocked in the Centennial league and with private schools. PLEASE! It has been going on for years and now that the private schools are dominating and the sport is spiraling downward for participation everyone wants to blame some one else. Hell, Success isn’t a surprise when it’s an expectation. Head coaches need to get off their duffs and Build an F'ing team! It is that simple and if you do not want to do the work because it has become harder or challenging than quit. If you are quitting now you probably should have resigned 5 plus years ago now that everything is out of wack in Colorado, especially since the guys in charge are about as old as some of my underwear. New blood is needed not only at the top but in coaching otherwise the consolidation will continue and eventually be like wrestling or dodgeball. Activities guys like to do but not as competitive as it once was during my day. Well you knew I was full of hot air but I am old and seen it all so if you want to play cupcake teams you will be cupcakes! 5A has become a cupcake league and 2A maybe 3A and below are where coaches know their stuff and play with less than 30 guys and both ways. Something both 4A and 5A need to realize before the game becomes extinct like me."

So again it is nice to hear older respected coaches speak their mind and often the truth comes out when they have nothing to loose. It is interesting have names were not mentioned but we all know whom he is talking about when speaking recruiting and coaches. However, more interesting is he is one of many saying “NEW BLOOD” is needed. In the past 2-3 years the Baby Boomer Generation coaches have said it over and over when being candid. Also the Generation X is on the same page as a few have moved on stating time for “NEW BLOOD” but the generation after the current Millennials, that play Xbox or PS are Generation Z who are more into X-games or video games. So we might be seeing a trend of less participation because the current Generation X has not worked hard enough like the Baby Boomer Generation coaches who lived through wars and how to rebuild a country let alone a football team at a public school. The Generation X was handed a blueprint to follow but it did not account for a sprawling suburb areas in addition to expanded private schools. Thus creating the current conditions that have been around for over a decade.

The fact remains there are some good talents in Colorado but now schools are competing more than ever to influence them or recruit them to their school. While the sports world will suffer in participation there will be teams playing a game in demise until rules apply to the masses and are not manipulated as has been the issue for a half century but popularized in the late 90’s and 2000’s.

Everyone should realize sports are for extra curricular activities and the goal is great grades to attend college and gain admissions.  Instead of jockeying for a position on a team, parents should be seeking a course of study in a high school for college. Many high schools offer concurrent enrollment classes that can be used for college credits. Almost an entire year can be achieved if done properly as a sophomore or Junior. Once again a proper head coach working with the school counselor would know this and should be an advocate of better grades rather than Thursday eligibility reports. So as 2018 unfolds look for an emphasis on fundamentals and how a new coach can build a foundation for future growth and create a better overall culture. 2018 might be know as the year it was out with the old and in with the new.

The guy: COACHES WANTED

2018 will be a year of change both in head coaches and the new two year cycle in Colorado football. Many were shocked when Eaglecrest HC Mike Schmidt resigned his 5A post after being the runner up to Pomona in the State Championship. On the same day Smoky Hill cut ties with its HC John Trahan and Highlands Ranch was interviewing for its next HC. However, the biggest shocker was Valor Christian as HC Rod Sherman stepped down from a team looking to 3-peat in 2017. Meanwhile 3.6 miles away Mike Campbell of Arapahoe announced he would no longer head up the warriors after 22 years of service and 15 as HC.

Experienced coaches have failed to become embryonic. - @303Gonzo

While there were many rumors at the tail end of the season there have only been about a dozen and a half official postings but school resumes from winter break next week. Currently Sanford, Riverdale Ridge, Liberty, Ellicott, Englewood, Sand Creek, Pinnacle, Colorado Deaf & Blind, Denver North, Faith Christian, Falcon, Prospect Ridge,  Sangre de Cristo, Arapahoe, Eaglecrest, Smoky Hill and Valor Christian.  Note that Evergreen has not made their Head Football Coach public but is in place per numerous sources.

  • Nick Trombetta moved from 3A Denver North to 4A Thornton.
  • Ahmad Lowe of 3A Northfield was upgraded from the lower level head coaching duties and was on staff at Mullen with Tom Thenell in 2012-13.
  • Austin Able a long time assistant at a handful of high schools will head up 4A Aurora Central.  AC has dropped from Class 5A to 4A for  the two year cycle 2018-19.

Q: So when many ask the question why so much movement?

A: The simple answer is PASSION! It will take new blood, passion and good old fashion sweat and tears to rebuild many fledgling programs. Football is popular in some circles but the participation numbers are down for a few reasons but namely underdevelopment. Experienced coaches have failed to become embryonic. In the past decade a high school coach must be involved in their community.  It is a rudimentary process to renovate or revamp a program for further development and success. A young coach will see the potential in area little league programs and the active ones will protect their house while the mature coaches will remain on the sidelines and complain about being in a mature neighborhood with growth or options. However, if you look at the private schools or active public schools rosters you will see athletes that became fans of coaches that came to support them on Saturdays.

Q: Why are some programs more successful?

A1: The honest truth is many coaches at smaller schools are aware that players have to play both ways so they prepare them for 5 quarters in the off season. While the highest classification in Colorado, 5A, garners the most attention it is 3A and below that really develop two way players. However that is not to say other coaches or programs do not believe in this process. In 5A Pomona has proven this year in and year out and Columbine and Valor have had recent success.

A2: There have also been some aggressive programs that focus on the 9 month off season. Many coaches will recommend players participate in multiple sports and collaborate with other coaches to carve out a day or two to meet with players in the off season to review the playbook or watch film to get better, You all have heard the saying, It takes a village. Well it is truth especially for the coaching staffs that open up the weight room at 6am or host a breakfast club or evening events like Monday night football or Wednesday review sessions. All little things to get better. Football is no longer a sport that begins a week before the start of school and ends in October if you want to compete in November and December.

Q: Do we need to hire a personal trainer?

A2: Tough one to answer but if some schools did their due diligence the simple answer would be NO! Keeping players in house breeds success if properly done right. The emphasis of team is important in the current entitlement era of me, me, me. While some schools have booster clubs to raise monies to fund extra  curricular activities it has proven well for many that hire outside resources. These events occur at the school allowing all athletes to participate and build a team bond. Field work in addition to weight rooms are becoming a major emphasis to schools so a few individuals do not drift away or get caught in traffic thus being late for school. As an added bonus the in school trainers are able to give coaches immediate feedback to improve their team goals.

If you examine the 20 keys to be a good coach it is apparent to have a good culture and be enthusiastic. A coach always has to build his players up and never quit. Using team meals to bond and to know your players is a must. Never making excuses for yourself, other staff members or continuing to introduce new methods is a must. While these may be 20 keys there are a few more that could have been added but the bottom line is if you are the guy, you must be a great example and a role model. Failure to do so results in hanging up the whistle and passing on the baton to direct the program.

We we will see you on the field.
A few dates to circle on the calendar:
January 25, 2018 New 2 year cycle vote for football proposal
February 7, 2018 1st official day to sign NLI until April
May 1, 2018 First day incoming 8th graders can participate in OTAs
May 29, 2018  is the current earliest possible official start to summer 10 day camps
August 6, 2018 proposed start to 2018 Colorado football day 1 practice

Game day post season part 2

The 2018 U.S. Army All-American Bowl is today Saturday, January 6, 2018 Live on NBC at 11am and will feature Colorados own  Issac Powers of Ponderosa High School and Baylor signee.The 2018 U.S. Army game has the tagline “The best 100 H.S. football players in America” but in Colorado it is all about Issac Powers.



Rod Sherman former head coach of Valor Christian is the OC Today for US Army game. Jason Mohns the Saguaro HS HC of AZ is the US Army All-American West Head Coach.

@303Gonzo