Highlands Ranch football hires Lakewood's Robinson; Pueblo Central tabs Mercer

Mark Robinson, pictured in 2011. (Jack Eberhard/JacksActionShots.com)

Mark Robinson, pictured during a press conference for the 2011 championship games at Mile High. (Jack Eberhard/JacksActionShots.com)

Highlands Ranch made a big splash on Tuesday when it hired Lakewood's Mark Robinson as football coach.

Robinson had been with the Tigers for 16 years, taking them to the Class 5A championship game in 2011. He was 78-89 since 1998 -- 28-16 since 2010, including 3-7 last season.

"We're very excited," Highlands Ranch athletic director Bruce Wright said via Twitter on Tuesday.

Robinson will replace Darrel Gorham, who was there for nine seasons.

Highlands Ranch is coming off consecutive 2-8 seasons, but was 9-3 in 2011 and lost to eventual champion Columbine in the quarterfinals.

The Falcons will need to find a new starting quarterback -- all three players who threw passes last season were seniors. They will also graduate their two leading rushers, as well as top six receiving targets.

Defensively, though, leading tackler Conner Helbling, a linebacker, returns.

Robinson's Lakewood squad started the 2013 season 1-3, losing those games by a combined 15 points. Included was a 45-43 loss to Fairview, a state finalist last season.

Lakewood won two of its final three games in the regular season, and finished the year No. 6 in 5A in passing yardage as a team.

Pueblo Central also filled its opening on Tuesday, hiring Jeremy Mercer.

Mercer was previously co-special teams coordinator and running backs coach at College of the Desert, a junior college in California.

"We are extremely lucky to have Jeremy as our next head football coach,” Pueblo Central ad Dave Craddock said in a statement. “He possesses a great balance of experience and enthusiasm, which fits with the foundation of our historic football program.”

Mercer graduated from Green Mountain, and later played fullback at Colorado Mesa. He started his coaching career as a student assistant at CMU.

This will be his first job as a head coach.

“Pueblo is a fantastic football community and a place that takes pride in winning football programs,” Mercer said in a statement. “Behind the great tradition this school has and the support of the community, Pueblo Central can and will get back to the top.”

Mercer replaces Zach Odell. Pueblo Central was 2-8 last season, but 8-4 in 2012. The school went 12-1 in 2009, and eventually advanced to the 3A semifinals before losing.

Follow all of this offseason's coaching changes here.