Paonia Eagles aim to contend under new head coach
Being a head coach in back-to-back seasons had Scott Rienks feeling as though he was short-changing both the football and girls basketball teams at Paonia High School.
Enter Brent McRae, a volunteer assistant football coach for the Eagles last season. McRae is now the head coach, with Rienks serving as an assistant. And both couldn’t be more excited for this fall. Rienks was able to concentrate on girls basketball camps this summer before going to CSU-Pueblo’s football camp with the Eagles in late July.
And McRae is a high-energy guy who pitched in last season with anything that needed to be done. He coached the junior high team, and during varsity games he was in the booth for Rienks.
One of the first things McRae did, other than make sure Rienks stayed on the staff as an assistant, was call the guy he learned from, his father, Eric McRae.
“My dad’s a retired teacher and coached for 41 years,” Brent McRae said. “He’s going to be our defensive coordinator.”
The Eagles, who went 4-5 last season in the toughest conference in Class 1A, return plenty of young talent and will promote players off an 8-1 junior varsity squad to fill positions vacated by graduation.
“A lot of those kids who played as sophomores on defense for us last year (on varsity) got a lot of time on the JV on the offensive side of the ball,” McRae said. “They know how to win, and most of them are wrestlers, and they know how to win.”
McRae’s excitement about his first season as head coach just might match the level of senior Tyler Jackson, who missed his sophomore and junior seasons with injuries, including a torn ACL last fall.
“He’s been at Paonia, but he’s been hurt, so it’s kind of like getting a move-in,” McRae said. “He went to camp, and he was fired up. He’s ready to go. It’s his senior year, his last go-round, and he’s ready.”
Jackson is a 5-foot-10, 160-pound tailback/safety. He’ll be in the starting backfield along with senior Will Austin (6-1, 170), with the Eagles set on running power football behind an experienced offensive line.
Ty Coats is a senior quarterback on a team that has one QB in each class, which McRae likes. Taylor Walters, a sophomore, will push for playing time in the backfield somewhere, either as a quarterback, tailback or fullback, and he will play either cornerback or linebacker on defense.