Cowboys hope education turns program around

QUICKREAD

About the Cowboys

Head coach: Dave Bristol, 28th year, 103-89, third year in latest stint with team.

2011 record: 1-7, lost in divisional playoff.

Assistant coaches: Justin Clark, defensive coordinator; Brian Bristol, special teams and defensive backs.

Returning starters: E/DL Fernando Enriquez, 6-0, 230, sr., all-conference; QB West Castro, 6-1, 145, sr.; RB/LB Marcell Devera, 5-7, 145, jr.; C Troy Bumgardner, 5-10, 245, jr.; DB Lane Castro, 5-9, 130, jr.

Key newcomers: RB/LB Cody Hoffman, 5-9, 155, so.; DL Tony Harris, 5-10, 170, fr.; TE Alex Cox, 5-10, 155, so.; DB Dayne Havens, 5-8, 130, jr.; OL/DL David Auito, 5-10, 210, so; RB/LB Arlis Hernandez, 5-10, 140, fr.

Base offense: single wing.

Base defense: 33.

Class A-8 Western Conference West Division capsules

About Mancos

Head coach: Adam Priestley, first year.

2011 record: 6-5.

Assistant coaches: Black Mitchell, Cade Mitchell.

Returning starters: TB Branson Mitchell, 6-1, 200, sr.; FB Conner Jankowski, 6-0, 180, sr.; OL/DL Ty Koppenhafer, 5-11, 175, jr.; TE Brandon Hood-Farley, 6-0, 160, so.

Key newcomers: QB/DE Casey Rohweder, 5-11, 175, sr.; CB Chase Sanders, 5-8, 130, jr.

Base offense: double-tight I-formation.

Base defense: 4-2-2.

Team outlook: Priestley takes over as head coach after serving as an assistant the previous four years, including defensive coordinator the past two. The Bluejays have experienced running backs in Mitchell and Jankowski, whom Priestley characterized as grinders. “They just put their heads down and get three, four, five yards at a time,” Priestley said. Rohweder is a combination runner and thrower with a “pretty good arm,” Priestley said, adding, “He’s turning into a pretty good quarterback.” Sanders is small, put Priestley calls him “a pretty good cornerback.” The offensive line is big question mark entering the season, to which Priestley said, “If we can build that front line, we’ll be OK this year.” 

Coach Priestley says: “The two-a-days, I’ve been pretty proud of the boys. We hope to keep growing and be one of those surprise teams.”

 

About Nucla

Head coach: Kelly Arnold, fifth year, second consecutive year, 22-16.

2011 record: 0-4 division, 1-7.

Assistant coaches: Brien Gardner, Shawn Ficklin, Mike Redd.

Returning starters: OL/DL Keenan Brune, 6-1, 255, sr.; OL/DL Shad Salazar, 6-2, 190, sr.; QB/RB/DE/LB Tray Sickels, 6-1, 160, sr.; FB/LB Chris Ray, 6-0, 185, sr.; RB/WR/DB Danny Harris, 5-10, 155, so.; TE/RB/DE Cody Terrell, 6-2, 175, so.; TE/DE Matt Larson, 6-0, 165, sr.; RB/E/LB Seldon Riddle, 6-3, 185, sr.

Key newcomers: OL/DL Archie Richardson, 6-0, 190, sr.

Base offense: none, use multiple formations.

Base defense: none, change up looks as much as possible.

Team outlook: The Mustangs have a good amount experience back, as several players started at least a few games if not all of them. Tray Sickels carried the load last season, according to Arnold, and he hopes that won’t have to be the case this year with more players who can help him. Team speed is a strength, led by Sickels, Harris and Larson. Depth is the biggest concern.

Coach Arnold says: “The seniors, they had a year that wasn’t so pleasant last season, so they actually worked hard. ... They’re bigger, so hopefully they will be stronger and able to stay on the field.”

 

Class A-8 Western Conference West Division capsules

 

About Nucla

Head coach: Kelly Arnold, fifth year, second consecutive year, 22-16.

2011 record: 0-4 division, 1-7.

Assistant coaches: Brien Gardner, Shawn Ficklin, Mike Redd.

Returning starters: OL/DL Keenan Brune, 6-1, 255, sr.; OL/DL Shad Salazar, 6-2, 190, sr.; QB/RB/DE/LB Tray Sickels, 6-1, 160, sr.; FB/LB Chris Ray, 6-0, 185, sr.; RB/WR/DB Danny Harris, 5-10, 155, so.; TE/RB/DE Cody Terrell, 6-2, 175, so.; TE/DE Matt Larson, 6-0, 165, sr.; RB/E/LB Seldon Riddle, 6-3, 185, sr.

Key newcomers: OL/DL Archie Richardson, 6-0, 190, sr.

Base offense: none, use multiple formations.

Base defense: none, change up looks as much as possible.

Team outlook: The Mustangs have a good amount experience back, as several players started at least a few games if not all of them. Tray Sickels carried the load last season, according to Arnold, and he hopes that won’t have to be the case this year with more players who can help him. Team speed is a strength, led by Sickels, Harris and Larson. Depth is the biggest concern.

Coach Arnold says: “The seniors, they had a year that wasn’t so pleasant last season, so they actually worked hard.”

About Mancos

Head coach: Adam Priestley, first year.

2011 record: 6-5.

Assistant coaches: Black Mitchell, Cade Mitchell.

Returning starters: TB Branson Mitchell, 6-1, 200, sr.; FB Conner Jankowski, 6-0, 180, sr.; OL/DL Ty Koppenhafer, 5-11, 175, jr.; TE Brandon Hood-Farley, 6-0, 160, so.

Key newcomers: QB/DE Casey Rohweder, 5-11, 175, sr.; CB Chase Sanders, 5-8, 130, jr.

Base offense: double-tight I-formation.

Base defense: 4-2-2.

Team outlook: Priestley takes over as head coach after serving as an assistant the previous four years, including defensive coordinator the past two.

The Bluejays have experienced running backs in Mitchell and Jankowski, whom Priestley characterized as grinders. “They just put their heads down and get three, four, five yards at a time,” Priestley said. Rohweder is a combination runner and thrower with a “pretty good arm,” Priestley said, adding, “He’s turning into a pretty good quarterback.” Sanders is small, put Priestley calls him “a pretty good cornerback.”

Coach Priestley says: “The two-a-days, I’ve been pretty proud of the boys. We hope to keep growing and be one of those surprise teams.”



Much of Plateau Valley High School’s football practice is spent teaching fundamentals because the coaches must. The players aren’t versed in the game enough to delve into more complex strategy.

But Dave Bristol, in the third year of his third go-around as Plateau Valley’s head coach, said he has more players, more experience and more optimism this year.

“We think we are beginning to turn the corner, but there is lot of work to be done,” said Bristol, who enters his 28th year overall at the Cowboys’ helm.

About half of the players are freshmen and sophomores, so Bristol anticipates he still needs to do “a massive amount of fundamental teaching,” but there’s a difference from a year ago.

“We’re not coaching to survive now,” he said. “We’re not going to have to start over teaching the fundamentals completely like we’ve had to.”

Bristol also will simplify the X’s and O’s, saying at this point they’re less critical than basic skill work.

“The number of plays we’re going to try to teach kids is probably half of what it was last year,” he said.

Plateau Valley has some senior leaders who hope to reap rewards this year. Chief among them are offensive end and defensive lineman Fernando Enriquez, a first-team all-conference selection last year, and quarterback West Castro.

Enriquez leads by example, as Bristol said, “Fernando was in the weight room. He’s done everything he can to have the best senior year he can.”

Castro, meanwhile, is a study in toughness and perseverance. Bristol said Castro “tore his elbow to pieces” in an all-terrain-vehicle accident a few years ago, “didn’t really play as a sophomore,” then returned last season and competed admirably despite his throwing arm remaining well below 100 percent healthy.

Castro’s arm continues to get stronger, and Bristol said, “West really wants to be a good football player.”

Enriquez and Castro are among of the players who lead Bristol to say, “We have some pretty good athletes. We clearly have more speed than the last two years.”

The greatest team strength the coach sees, though, is a willingness to learn.

“We have younger kids who are paying attention. That’s the most exciting thing,” Bristol said.

How this year’s improvements will translate in the Class A-8 Western Conference West Division remains to be seen. Bristol acknowledges the win-loss record may not reflect how far the program has come.

He hopes this year serves as the foundation for a return to past glory.

“We’re trying to get back to where we were 10-12 years ago,” Bristol said. “And that’s: Nobody wanted to play us late in the season.”


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