If you have been around Colorado High School football long enough you witness some great accomplishments. Sometimes it is that play of the night, a call or an athlete that turns your head. Sometimes it is that dude that is the face of the program, the head coach. Some will say records are meant to be broken while others just hope their name adorns the record books for all to view. Unfortunately with the demise of the Rocky Mountain Newspaper and decline of the Denver Post you have to rely on those around longer than dirt or maybe the internet. So after much research there is one fact or accomplishment that is about to happen or has transpired, 200 DUBs, wins in my day, by Tom Thenell the current head coach at Smoky Hill High School. Old Tommy has had lots of success both as a high school player, 1976 -1979, college player 1980 – 1985 and coach 1985 – current and made a lot of players better if you listened to his wisdom and played his brand of football. Some might call him a curmudgeon but those are the people that do NOT understand Thenell. He is a person, a husband, a father, an administrator and a coach that cares more about the kids than anything else. Brother and former player Tim Thenell, ”
He cares more about the kids than anything else and I respect him for that! He is one of those guys like Lowry at Columbine that have an honorable commitment to their schools.”Tim shares a record of the longest pass in high school of 99.5 yards to his 6″4′ and 180 pound teammate Shane Fisher who went onto the University of Illinois and played as a true freshman two years later. The interesting thing was this was Timmys senior year and on homecoming night of October 13, 1989 when the opposition took a kick all they way down the field for an apparent score. But wait, a Mullen defender poked out the ball and recovered it inches from the goal line to set up the historic and memorable moment that adorns the record book and as of December 2018 is shared by a total of 8 QBs. Fisher later won the State4x100.One thing omitted from the associations record book is Thenells winning and loosing record as of December 2018 that has been ambiguous based on various sources. The 303Gonzo.com shows his years of service as a head coach from 1992-current as 198-113 as of October 11, 2019 and the 49-26 besting of Denver East in the current Metro 10 5A class. 5A is the highest classification in Colorado High School Football.
However, his former JK Mullen AD was addressed in an article upon his resignation and either the reporter or Vince Massey did not update the association record book in that year or in the current offering which leads viewers to assume Tom Thenell just won game 200. The article states, “Before joining Mullen, Thenell coached at Bear Creek from 1992-2011. His overall record is 183-112, according to Mullen.” Vince Massey has NOT returned a phone call for comment and the outgoing voicemail suggest he will be back September 30th. Today is October 14th so attention to detail?
Smoky Hill has yet to return a call but we can confirm Thenells wins at Smoky Hill via online outlets of HUDL and MaxPreps that show in 2018 The Buffaloes went 10-1 and suffered the only loss in round one of the expanded 5A playoff seeding of 24 teams. Currently the Buffaloes are 7-0 and face Adams City on October 18th that may or may not be win 200 depending on who is the historian. Our data suggests next week versus Mountain Range.
UPDATE: Smoky Hill WON big versus Adams City 51-7 Bear Creek was very helpful and reached out to others for clarification and simply stated, “we didn’t keep those numbers and I am surprised CHSAA did not have him on the list this season if indeed he’s approaching or won game 200 I am glad you are doing the research.” Both Zach his son and Danni his daughter graduated from Bear Creek and are well respected atheletes as well as their father in his tenure from 1992-2011.
So if you have a calculator we have the following data, 183-112 per an association staff member in an article from JANUARY 9, 2018, 3:43 PM plus the 10-1 2018 season and the current (7-0) in 2019. Simple right? Well 183 + 10 + 7 is 200. Well when you do the research it does NOT add up as everything prior to 2003 is ambiguous or NOT public information unless you break out the microfiche of the box scores from the local rags. What has been solidified is the following by documenting each season but not all 28:
Unfortunately the site MaxPreps offers a different line item for the years at Bear Creek.
At the end of the day all we know is in year 2019 Tommy Thenell will be known for winning 200 Colorado high school football games. Both regular season and playoffs. His resume says it all, a student at JK Mullen from 1976-1980 that won two state championships with teammate and now former Mullen HC Vincent White and went onto CSU to earn his degree.
After the years at Fort Collins old Tommy began as an (OC) offensive coordinator at Mullen in 1985 under former USFL HC Peter Levine whom took over for popular HC David Sidwell prior to obtaining his first HC gig at Bear Creek in 1992. Like Tommy Watson from Five Points, whom was a 1992 Mullen graduate and inaugural member of its de La Salle program said, “nothing was ever easy and It doesn’t matter where you start out. It matters where you finish.”
So Tommy has assured himself of 200 victories in 2019 it is just the timeline that is ambiguous. Tom Thenell can be summed up as a man of humanity in addition to being a ball coach. Eventually his name will be placed in the record books for 28 years of service and 200 wins to go along with the personal accomplishments in the late 70’s. In addition both Tim his brother and son Zach currently appear in many QB statistical categories and coach football. Zach at Smoky Hill with dear old dad and Tom and Tim at 3A Thomas Jefferson.
COMPLETION PERCENTAGE Minimum: 130 attempts
1. Tom Thenell, Mullen 1979 73.5 (111/151)
2. Owen Burke, D’Evelyn 2015 73.26 (274/374)
3. Luke Nethercot, Canon City 2015 73.23 (186/254)
4. AJ Cecil, Valor Christian 2013 72.7 (136/187)
5. Maverick Reed, Highlands Ranch 2014 72.1 (95/132)
6. Mitch Griebel, Heritage 2009 71.1 (128/180)
7. Jacob Knipp, Ralston Valley 2013 70.5 (184/261)
8. Colin Niclas, Crow Valley 1993 70.4
Zach Thenell, Bear Creek 2008 70.4 (216/207)
10. Austin Apodaca, Silver Creek 2011 70.3 (256/364)
11. Zach Thenell, Bear Creek 2007 70.3 (244/347)
12. Luke Del Rio, Valor Christian 2012 70.2 (179/255)
13. Zach Thenell, Bear Creek 2009 69.81 (229/328)
Many were unaware of Tom Thenell and influence on the 1998 season of Justin Holland, Bear Creek who holds the record of 4,181 passing yards that is tops in Colorado until Aidan Atkinson, Fairview in 2018 that was on pace to break it until his unfortunate season ending injury that left him at 3,952 for the year.
Also speaking of Fairview, another Tommy in HC Tom McCartney, 1993 – current, entered the season with 180 wins all at one school confirmed in a text message to @303Gonzo on Sunday October 13, 2019, he has 180 wins not the incorrect association number posted of 181 wins on December 17, 2018. Perhaps the next Colorado HC to post 200 DUBs as the kids say these days. Currently Fairview is (6-1) so 14 to go with 3 regular season games and most likely one playoff. The feat of 200 would have to occur in 2020.
One record father and son share is PASS COMPLETION PERCENTAGE and a Minimum: 200 passes.
NOTE: Ryan Clement is a current assistant coach at Smoky Hill.
1. Zach Thenell, Bear Creek 2006-09 70.243 (694/988)
2. Luke Del Rio, Valor Christian 2012 70.196 (179/255)
3. Jacob Knipp, Ralston Valley 2011-13 70.172 (367/523)
4. Thom Thenell, Mullen 1978-79 68.5
5. Aidan Atkinson, Fairview 2017* 67.7
6. Bryan Coleman, Cotopaxi 1992-95 67.0
7. Ryan Clement, Mullen 1990-93 66.6
8. Caleb Flack, D’Evelyn 2008-11 66.2
9. Sean Davis, Bear Creek 1992-95 65.8
So congrats TOMMY ON 200! It’s been one helluva a ride and damn proud to know you influence kids with a spin on coaching. @303Gonzo
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