LOVELAND, Colo. — The news was so unbelievable that Bart Mayes couldn't put it into words.
Immobilized and restrained in a halo device, the Mountain View football head coach was trying to recover from a life-altering car crash in summer 2018 when he heard that his close friend and former colleague experienced the same traumatic experience.
"You can't make that stuff up," Mayes said. "I wanted so bad to reach out to him and couldn't because of my own condition, and that was very frustrating to me."
Five weeks after Mayes' accident that caused his vehicle to flip five times and shatter his C2 and C3 vertebrae, Windsor football head coach Chris Jones -- a former Mountain View coach -- was rear-ended and suffered a major concussion.
"I was on the phone with my wife at the time," Jones said. "I remember telling her, 'I'll call you back, we're about to get hit,' which is probably not what you should say to your spouse."
Both crashes forced Mayes and Jones to miss coaching the 2018 season.
"It was the first time in 24 years I hadn't coached at all," Mayes said. "It gives you a lot different perspective when you have something like that taken away."
Neither were sure if they'd be able to return to coaching, let alone teaching, again.
Fast forward from summer 2018 to summer 2019.
At the same local restaurant where the two dine together on a weekly basis, the conversation has turned from "if we'll come back" to "when we come back."
The duo stuck together through their rehab stints and found comfort in relating to one another.
"It was comforting to know that if Chris can do it, I can do it," Mayes said. "You learn in times like that who the people in your life that are special."
Both coaches returned to lead their respective teams this fall.
On October 24, they went head-to-head at Ray Patterson Stadium for a 4A Northern League clash that the Wizards won 38-0.
"When I look across the field and see Bart, I feel validated that we're in it for the right reasons," Jones said. "And that reason is a lot larger than the game."
After receiving a sucker punch from life, Jones and Mayes have gotten back on track and strengthened their relationship more than they ever thought possible.
"I see our relationship continuing on until we take our last breath on this planet," Mayes said.
Laughing, Jones added: "Maybe we'll officiate or coach little league with our grandchildren."