AURORA - Expect to see a new Overland football team when the Trailblazers take the field August 31.
"Guys are just excited to be here," Overland senior Donavan Carver said. "They want to get in the weight room."
That sentiment is a stark contrast from the past two seasons that saw the Trailblazers go a combined 5-15. Now, the navy and green are headed in a new direction. The program's new mindset is a direct result of its new leader, Steve Sewell.
"[It] ended up being a dream job for me really, just when you enjoy the kids so much, you just want to spend as much time with them as possible," Sewell said. "You want to help them as much as you possibly can."
Sewell -- who works at the high school as a post-graduate specialist -- was already coaching the Trailblazers' track and field teams when he was hired on as the football coach. Many of this year's seniors had run-ins with the former Denver Broncos running back.
"He's much more than a name and retired football player in our building," Overland athletic director Ryan Knorr told 9NEWS. "He is one of the most kind, sincere and dedicated individuals I've worked with while being in education."
As his players quickly learned, while Sewell was new to the football team, he was already well acquainted with the sport.
The Trailblazers open the season on Thursday, August 31 at 7 p.m. against Denver East.
"He played in the NFL, so obviously he knows what he's talking about," senior Cameron Lee Murray said. "That's the highest level of football and, like I said, I'm just grateful I get a coach like that."
Sewell was a first round draft pick out of Oklahoma who would go on to play in three Super Bowls with the Broncos. In 1987, he made a handful of crucial catches in what later became known as 'The Drive.'
"I went on YouTube and looked at him," Carver said with a laugh. "I had to go see if he was good or not."
"[Sewell] brings something to the table that none of the other coaches really did, and we knew we were going to start winning as soon as he was chosen," junior quarterback Luis Ruiz added.
Under Sewell's guidance, the momentum at Overland has accelerated. In addition to the success on the football field, Sewell and his staff have preached a change in the culture. This year, they are posting their own team GPA that all players must achieve if they want to stay eligible. It is their goal to have every senior graduate a better person first, and a better player, second.
"Steve is committed to building fantastic young men who will be great dads and husbands who happen to play football," Knorr said. "Coach Sewell is going to do amazing things on the field because he has priorities and standards for the development of our students' character."
"You could fumble the ball on the one yard line or something like that," senior Jaion Colbert said. "[Sewell] wouldn't yell at you, he wouldn't get mad. He'll just try to bring you up."
The Overland Trailblazers wrapped up their summer camp last week. While the players' primary focus was football, Sewell wanted to make sure their first year together was memorable.
"When they come here, I want them to have a positive experience. We're going to work them hard, we're going to hold them accountable and we're going to make sure they're doing the right things," Sewell said. "But we also want them to have a good time."
The fun factor is definitely there. On Friday, Sewell introduced another football tradition -- this one from his days coaching at Colorado State University-Pueblo. All of the players (and coaches) were required to take the stage away from the Friday Night Lights in a good, old fashioned, talent show.
"We were definitely going to do a talent show to let the guys unwind and have fun and laugh at each other," Sewell said. "We really want them to get on the field and play for each other."
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