One way of defining football culture is how players, fans and others see the expectations for the team. There are six head football coaches in new places at south metro-area programs this season, and …
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One way of defining football culture is how players, fans and others see the expectations for the team.
There are six head football coaches in new places at south metro-area programs this season, and culture is a term that surfaced a lot during preseason conversations.
Two of the coaches will be trying to overhaul the character of the programs they are joining. A few are tweaking reputable teams and one is trying to maintain the culture of arguably the state’s premier program, Valor Christian.
• Todd Casebier is the new head coach at Castle View.
• Mike Campbell takes over at Englewood.
• Former Valor Christian coach Rod Sherman has replaced Campbell at Arapahoe.
• Jeff Ketron returns to the coaching fraternity as the new Chaparral mentor.
• John Trahan will lead the Highlands Ranch program.
• Former Denver Broncos wide receiver Ed McCaffrey is the new coach at Valor.
Here’s a look at what the coaches are facing as the season gets underway:
“We want to change how we approach the game in all ways, in-season and off-season, which entails a lot,” said Casebier, who has a resume that includes rebuilding programs at Palisade, Montrose and Fruita Monument, where he guided teams into 18 state playoff appearances in 20 seasons.
Castle View teams have gone 1-9 twice in the past three years and the Sabercats have averaged just three wins over the past six seasons.
“It’s not that we’re doing anything that other programs haven’t done, but we are trying to get this thing on the right track and it takes a lot of work to do that,” Casebier said. “The thing about work is everyone wants a shortcut these days, and there isn’t one. Hard work looks the same in 2018 as it did in 1918. You have to go out and do it.
“This culture and generation thinks there is this quick fix. And for football, there isn’t.”
Campbell, who was Class 5A Arapahoe’s coach for 15 seasons, is now facing the challenge of restructuring Englewood football, which has gone seven seasons without a winning record and has only two in the past 13 years. The Pirates are playing in Class 2A this season.
“When you’ve been coaching as long as I have at a different place, you take for granted expectations, and we are still getting an education here on what expectations look like,” said Campbell. “Englewood hasn’t had a winning record since 2010, so we have our hands full, speaking of culture.”
Sherman was involved in the Valor Christian football program since the school opened, and in five seasons as head coach, he helped the Eagles compile a 57-11 mark with three state titles.
He is now the leader of the Warriors program, which was 8-12 the past two seasons.
“In the business world, they would tell you it is easier to start a culture than change a culture,” said Sherman. “I would say it’s the same, but our young men at Arapahoe have done an incredible job of getting us to where we want to be. They are meeting the expectations. We can compete with the best in the state, no doubt about it.
“Culture is the way we go about our business. Coaches are responsible for the culture. These young men listen to what we are saying.”
Ketron was head coach at Douglas County from 1999 to 2013 and coached the Huskies to the 2005 state 5A title and a runner-up finish in 2007. He inherits a Chaparral program that has had just two losing seasons in the last decade.
“The culture was established,” Ketron said. “The school is a winning school with a winning attitude. Schematically, it has been a big difference in what the players had been doing. We have seen a lot of progress.”
Trahan comes from Smoky Hill and takes over a team that has advanced the past two seasons into the 5A state playoffs.
“Changing culture of what has been in the past is about what will keep them at a certain level of success and then helping them take the next step forward,” said Trahan. “In this program, there are a lot of really gifted athletes. Changing the culture of team discipline has been the biggest key to everything we’ve had to do.”
McCaffrey has watched his four sons — including Christian, who nearly won the Heisman Trophy at Stanford and is now a standout NFL running back — compete on the gridiron for Valor. His youngest son, Luke, is a senior quarterback and will help his dad in his first venture into high school coaching.
The Valor culture is well established, with seven state titles in 10 seasons. The Eagles have played in the state championship game in eight of the past nine seasons.
McCaffrey was not available for comment for this article.
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