Perhaps no football coaching change this offseason was as major as Blair Hubbard leaving Faith Christian for Lutheran.
Hubbard won three state championships in 15 seasons as head coach at Faith Christian, a perennial power in the Class 2A ranks. His teams were 148-30, made the playoffs 14 times and won 10 league titles.
But in the offseason Hubbard was looking to tackle something new. Lutheran — a 3A team since the school was formed by a merger of the old Denver Lutheran and Lutheran-Parker schools prior to the 2012 season — was a fit.
Hubbard was hired on Feb. 20.
"I was just kind of looking for a new challenge, so when the opportunity presented itself I took some time to think about it, talked it over with my wife and some other wise council and decided to go ahead," Hubbard said. "This was a good opportunity to make the change. I'm excited about this season and just the future of Lutheran High School football in general."
Faith Christian moved quickly to hire Ralph Nance, Hubbard's defensive coordinator, as his successor. It meant that Hubbard's staff — which had been together for "over 10 years," he said — was not going to stay intact.
"I've hired a completely new staff," Hubbard said. "That was a specific challenge. And it was a good process."
Hubbard's new staff at Lutheran comprises 10 assistants — five of whom are in the building.
"I feel very comfortable with the coaches that we have on staff," Hubbard said. "We've just got a good cohesiveness together. Everybody's on the same page and is there for the same reason. We're there to help build young men into men, boys into men. We're not there necessarily for the wins and the losses. If we do our jobs, those kinds of things will hopefully take care of themselves. Our purpose is to have an effect in young men's lives."
Lutheran was 31-11 in former coach Daryl Moe's four seasons, including three playoff appearances. So Hubbard is inheriting a great program.
Included are quarterback James Willis and receiver Josh Clausen, both seniors and four-year varsity members, who combined for more than 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns through the air last season.
Willis, entering his third year as the starter at quarterback, threw for 2,306 yards and 24 touchdowns last season.
"He's someone that's just a humble leader, he's a hard worker," Hubbard said. "That's the kind of athlete we're looking to model our program after. Someone's that just has that blue-collar work ethic and is humble and willing to help other kids out along the way."
Clausen already has 2,312 receiving yards in his three seasons, which is just outside the top-10 in the state's career record book.
"He's (6-foot-4) and he's got very good speed and great hands," Hubbard said. "He's getting some looks from some of the area Division I schools, so it's exciting to work with him. He's got that same kind of work ethic that we're looking for, as well."
A group of linemen also return.
"They have been very consistent in the weight room, and whenever you've got the kids up front that are dedicated to spending time in the weight room, you're going to have a good opportunity to win some battles up front," Hubbard said.
Lutheran opens the season in Houston, playing at Lutheran South Academy — a Division II school in Texas which went 8-3 and made the playoffs last season. It's an opportunity for everyone to get to know one another really well, really quick.
"It will be a fun experience for the kids and for the coaches," Hubbard said. "There's a lot of logistics involved and we've gotten a lot of outstanding administrative support from the school.
"They're of the mindset that they're there for the athletes and the athletic program and want to do as much as they can to help the young men and women out in the athletic programs to have a great experience in their time at Lutheran."
- During its transition to a regional program, the former Montbello High School athletic department will be known as the Warriors (Montbello). Eventually, the plan is to simply call the teams the Warriors — without including the Montbello clarifier.
- Last week at the All-School Summit, a new approach to the classification structure was discussed. Every impression I've gotten seems like this is where the state will head this fall — though there was some resistance voiced during the classification breakout session at the Summit. We'll see if that initial uneasiness turns into action ahead of CLOC's November meeting.
- Valor Christian's Eric Lee Jr. and Pine Creek's Avery Anderson, both defensive backs, will enroll at Nebraska early, the school announced.
- Regis Jesuit offensive linemen Tim Lynott's father tweeted out his official offer letter from Colorado. Lynott is a CU commit, and was recently moved up to a 4-star recruit by Scout.com.
- Here's a neat picture of Windsor's football team playing in a flooded field near its school during storms last week. (Coach Chris Jones was quick to urge safety to his players: "Be smart about the water in front of the school," he tweeted.)
- Brighton pitcher/shortstop Conner Reynolds committed to Northern Colorado for baseball last week.
- Tony Ramunno had been the head football coach at Lewis-Palmer for 25 seasons, but he resigned late last month. "I really like Friday nights; it's probably the best job a guy can have in the country," he told the Colorado Springs Gazette. Former defensive coordinator Dustin Tupper will replace him.
- Moffatt County hired longtime coach Keith Gille to head its football program, according to the Craig Daily Press.
- Grandview hired Patrick Chapla as its boys lacrosse coach. He had been an assistant at Mountain Vista, and is also a club coach at 3d Lacrosse. "We are excited to add his passion, experience and love of the game to our program," Grandview athletic director Jamee Ulitzky wrote in an email.
- Smoky Hill hired Robert Kennedy as baseball coach, according to the Aurora Sentinel.
- Eagle Ridge has a new girls basketball coach, according to the Brighton Blade: Vern Rathbun, who has been coaching for more than 30 years.
- The numbers from the NFHS Network are in from the past school year, and the most popular events were as follows: Arapahoe-Fossil Ridge boys basketball in the 5A tournament; Overland-Denver East boys basketball in the 5A tournament; and the state track meet.
- It seems like this is a weekly occurrence now, but here's another reminder to kids that how you act on social media can have a very negative effect on your recruitment.
- Englewood's getting a new turf field.
- Cherry Creek's gym is "getting a major upgrade."
- Fruita Monument wrestler Jacob Seely earned All-American status with his seventh-place finish at a national tournament in Fargo, North Dakota last month.
- Doherty is holding a golf tournament at Colorado Springs Country Club on Aug. 18, and is seeking teams to participate. That's the same course where the Class 5A state meet will be held. Interested schools should contact Doherty AD Chris Noll: CHRISTOPHER.NOLL@d11.org.
- Likewise, Jefferson Academy is seeking schools for its golf invitational on Sept. 2 at Omni Interlocken Golf Club Resort. Contact Jags' AD Michael Wilson: email@example.com.
- Horizon is inviting schools to its annual Popsicle Run at the Adams County Fairgrounds on Sept. 5. It's a 4k course, and offers popsicles at the end. Contact: Antonio.Ricciardi@adams12.org.
- Kim and Branson will co-op in football (ineligible for the playoffs), boys golf, volleyball, boys and girls basketball, as well as track. They will be the Kim Mustangs in all sports but football, where they will compete as the Branson Bearcats.
Alumni short stuff
- Heritage alum Shane Opitz, now playing minor league baseball, was interviewed by the Dunedin Blue Jays' radio network about a recent rehab of an injury, but also spoke about hailing from Colorado. "There's a lot of talent coming out of Colorado, but people don't necessarily recognize that because we don't play year-round," Opitz said. "There's not a lot of good weather during the winter time, we're under snow. But there's a lot of talent." A 2010 grad, he's hitting .280 at Dunedin in 13 games so far this season.
- Chaparral alum Shane Callahan has been cleared to play immediately for CU following his transfer from Auburn. Here he is in a video speaking with the media after practice. "I'm proud to wear Colorado on my jersey, this is my hometown," he said. "Excited to have the chance to play for my home state this year!" he wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.
- Kalen Ballage, a 2013 Falcon graduate, is "turning heads" as Arizona State opens football camp. Coach Todd Graham said he's "the most impressive freshman running back we've ever had. Ever."
- Bobby Dalbec, who graduated from Legend in 2013, tore it up at the Cape Cod Baseball League this summer. He had five home runs and 18 RBIs in just 29 games, and hit .228. He also took part in the home run contest during All-Star festivities. Dalbec just completed his freshman season as the starting designated hitter/first baseman and reliever at Arizona. He hit .266 with two home runs and 30 RBIs for the Wildcats, and also had a team-best 2.13 ERA in 22 appearances. Dalbec did tell the Arizona Daily Star that his future is as a position player: "If we really need a guy to be a starter, I'd obviously do it. But I like my future after Arizona to be with the bat. I'm not real big on pitching. I do it and compete, but I prefer to be in the box."
- 2003 Golden graduate Mark Melancon, a three-sport star in high school, returned to Colorado as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates late last month, and picked up a save at Coors Field. It was the third save he'd gotten against the Rockies in nine days. "Always fun playing on the field I grew up dreaming of playing on as a Big Leaguer," Melancon tweeted.
- This was neat: Former Grandview boys basketball star Eric Garcia pointed out that he (now at Wofford), Denver East alum Dom Collier (CU) and former Regis Jesuit player Josh Perkins (Gonzaga) will all be on national television at the same time during the college basketball season.