Prep football coaching-carousel outlook

Published: December 27, 2013, 9:17 pm, by Scott Kaniewski

In the coming weeks (in some cases maybe months), high schools in the Pikes Peak region needing football coaches will be announcing their hires.

Six schools in the area are in the process of searching for coaches. Here’s a look at those programs and a recent history of what the teams have done.

 

Liberty

What happened: After one season, the Lancers let Clarence Vaughn go, following a 2-8 season.

“It’s just with the point we are at with the program, it felt better to go in a different direction,” Liberty athletic director Mike Sibley told The Gazette.

Lancers boosters showed what a dedicated bunch they are when they came to the aid of some current players of former coach Jaron Cohen, who left Liberty after five seasons for Hinkley.

Plenty of coaches both current and former have applied for the position, Sibley told The Gazette this week, adding that he was pleased with the quality of applicants.

Recent history: Over the past four seasons, the Lancers went 12-28, missing the postseason all four seasons.

Outlook: A supportive gig, that will always be in a challenging league and have to compete with rivals Pine Creek and Rampart.

 

Palmer

What happened: Justin Rich stepped down after two seasons in which the Terrors went 2-18.

“It was a tough decision, but my skill set doesn’t fit their needs,” Rich told The Gazette last month.

Palmer quarterback Mason Lopez (12) gets the pitch off as Doherty's Cody Milhoan (9) hits him in the first quarter Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, at Garry Berry Stadium.     KEVIN KRECK, SPECIAL TO THE GAZETTE

Palmer quarterback Mason Lopez (12) gets the pitch off as Doherty’s Cody Milhoan (9) hits him in the first quarter Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, at Garry Berry Stadium. KEVIN KRECK, SPECIAL TO THE GAZETTE

Recent history: With Rich stepping down, the Terrors are left looking for their fourth coach in five seasons after 17 years of stability. Rich’s Terrors went 2-18, the 2011 team went 2-8 in Doug Miolen’s one season, and Rod Baker’s group (the last of a 17-year span) went 7-4 and won a playoff game in 2010. The Terrors went a combined 11-30 in those four seasons. 

More than 20 applicants submitted resumes to Palmer, and athletic director Robert Framel told The Gazette that interviews were conducted before winter break.

Outlook: We’re guessing Palmer has made its decision and is waiting until after the break to announce the new coach. Even if that’s not the case, the Terrors are close to naming their newest charge. It’ll be a tough place to build, but the Terrors most likely will be playing a 4A schedule next year (plus Doherty and Fountain-Fort Carson) in hopes of turning things around, a la Class 3A champ Coronado this season. Said Rich: “We’ve had two darn good freshman teams in a row, but it’s probably a good time to let someone else take it from here.”

 

Peyton

What happened: Kenneth Delahoy is still listed as the Panthers’ head coach on Maxpreps.com.

That’s not the case. At some point during the season, Delahoy was removed from both his coaching and teaching duties at Peyton, according to a source. And the Panthers have advertised for a football coach on CHSAAnow.com

Recent history: In the last four seasons, all under Delahoy until his release, the Panthers went 18-19 and reached the playoffs in 2011. (They also went 2-7 in DelaHoy’s first season at the helm in 2009).

Outlook: Of the 22 players listed on this season’s roster, eight were seniors, while 12 were either sophomores or freshmen. So there’s plenty of room to grow.

 

Rampart

What happened: After three seasons, JJ Owens suddenly resigned. Neither athletic director Andy Parks nor other administrators at Rampart would say why, deferring only to District 20 spokeswoman Nanette Anderson, who emailed a statement to The Gazette saying, “Jerry Owens resigned his position as a coach and teacher at Rampart High School … ”

Rampart High School football coach J.J. Owens during practice Monday, August 29, 2011. Mark Reis, The Gazette

Rampart High School football coach J.J. Owens during practice Monday, August 29, 2011. Mark Reis, The Gazette

Owens said only that he “had a good time and got to work with great people at Rampart.”

Recent history: Owens led the Rams to an 11-19 record in three seasons, but reached the Class 5A playoffs in 2011. He also guided the 2013 offense impressively, as quarterback Cameron Hacker threw for 2,302 yards and 25 touchdowns. In 2010, Paul Passno led the Rams to a 4-6 record.

Outlook: Rampart will be a job, similar to Liberty and Palmer, where there won’t be a shortage of resumes. The Rams will have a number of juniors and sophomores returning and should have a good foundation from which to start.

 

Sierra

What happened: Back-to-back 2-8 seasons were too much for Dean Huffman.

The former Vista Ridge coach stepped down, despite his belief the pieces were there.

“I felt like we have a recipe for success,” he told The Gazette in late November. “… Someone will take them to a higher spot, but I’m not sure I could get them to believe.”

Recent history: Just like the Terrors, the Stallions are looking for their fourth coach in five seasons. Don McGatlin went winless in 2011, while Joe Roskam (now at Woodland Park) went 6-4 in 2010, his last season in a seven-year stint at Sierra. Roskam twice took the Stallions to the postseason.

Outlook: Athletic director Mike Geniesse told The Gazette the Stallions would like to have a new coach in charge by late January. Within the next month, expect that announcement to be forthcoming. Huffman had plenty of freshmen and sophomores in the program. The next coach will need to take those athletes and put it all together.

 

Vista Ridge

What happened: According to Falcon School District 49, Les Johnson resigned. But no one at Vista Ridge would actually talk about it, instead putting out information through a

Vista Ridge football coach Les Johnson led the Wolves to the playoffs in all three seasons he was in charge.

Vista Ridge football coach Les Johnson led the Wolves to the playoffs in all three seasons he was in charge.

press release from the district’s public information officer. In three seasons, Johnson led his teams to a 25-9 record and reached the postseason every time. Johnson could not be reached for comment.

Recent history: In the school’s brief history, the Wolves have established themselves as a perennial playoff team. In four seasons, they’ve gone 35-12, winning an average of more than eight games per season. That was only hurt by a 6-5 season this year, in which the Wolves still reached the playoffs in what many expected to be a rebuilding year after graduating 22 seniors from the class of 2013.

Outlook: Starting with the aforementioned Huffman who was fired days before the start of practice in August 2011 and moving to the resignation of Johnson – one that was questioned on The Gazette’s website and in emails to The Gazette – questions surround the direction of the program. The athletes are in place. The program’s record has been one many schools around the Pikes Peak region, not to mention the state, would be proud to have.