Last year's 2A runner-up Kent Denver means business. On Saturday, the Sun Devils sent a message to the rest of the state with a 59-0 victory over Prospect Ridge Academy -- this year's they're here to win it all.
But despite that end goal, Kent will take a week-by-week approach to the season. This team has learned it's always better to have time on your side, whether it's extra minutes on the field or months to recover from a devastating loss.
"Last year is definitely not something you forget and kind of put away," senior Josh McDonald said of his team's playoff run before losing to La Junta 17-10 in the 2A title game.
At Kent Denver High School, time can also be seen as tenure, and no one knows more about that than head football coach, Scott Yates. With Saturday's win, Yates took sole control of the Colorado state high school football wins record.
"Only [the media] are the ones who say it all the time," he said with a laugh. "It just means I've been here a really long time."
Thirty-six years, to be exact. Yates' record has nothing to do with luck, but a lot to do with the type of coach he is. In his three-plus decades at Kent Denver, he has averaged more than eight wins a season. That also includes three state titles -- he nearly had his fourth in 2016.
"Of course, we're all really impressed, but you know, not in the least bit surprised. He's a great coach, he's a great guy and it's been an honor and pleasure to play for him," senior Charlie McKissick said. "Off the field, he's one of the most honorable people I know. He's a genuinely nice guy [and] great person."
"You can tell with coach Yates that [the wins record is] not really on his mind," McDonald added. "He's more focused on giving us seniors a good senior year, and giving the team a great season."
Scott Yates began his coaching career at Fairview High School in Boulder, where he spent one season. The next 36 have been in Denver, working with the student-athletes at Kent Denver. Despite his long reign at the school, Yates says his assistant coaches and their long-term dedication to the program has been just as crucial to the wins he's amassed.
"We've had great continuity with our coaching staff," he said. "I would attribute our success as much to that as anything."
Yates and West Grand head coach Chris Brown entered this season tied for most career victories (315), after trading the record back-and-fourth all of 2016. It will likely be a similar situation again this year, but Yates isn't focused on that.
"It's absolutely not at all why I coach," Yates said. "I'm here to help young guys become great young men. That's the number one goal of our program, and it's proven if we stay true to that, good football really comes with it."
Another thing Yates hasn't given any thought? Retirement. He says he plans on coaching for "a little while" and won't put a date on it.
"What we really talk about is, what do these guys look like five years from now, ten years from now? Are they great contributors to their community and wherever they?" he said, "Do they become great husbands and become great fathers? Those are the kinds of things that ultimately, you know, when I'm done with this gig, that's what's going to matter to me more than whatever that [win] number ends up being."
Kent Denver will travel to Gypsum, Colo. for its first away game of the season this week. They take on Eagle Valley on Friday, September 1 at 7 p.m.
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