FORT LUPTON — Each member of Weld Central football's coaching staff delivers a message to the team in a huddle at the end of every game.
After the Rebels' 48-7 triumph over Fort Lupton on Friday, every coach reminded the players this is a very special team, and bringing a winning atmosphere back to the school is a huge deal.
"This is our first winning season since 2009," defensive coordinator Kyle Haffner said to the players. "Brush is going to lose to Valley tonight, and they're going to be out looking for blood, so our next game is going to be against a very good Brush team — a bunch of giant dudes smashing it in our mouths. We need to lock it up to be a championship football team."
Weld Central, ranked No. 7 in Class 2A this week, remains unbeaten and improves to a 6-0 mark after taking down Fort Lupton on the Bluedevils' home turf. Since the Rebels didn't make the playoffs last season, the team's now 11-game winning streak is the current longest in Colorado, regardless of classification.
"We have an incredible fan base right now," second-year head coach James Canaday said. "It’s unreal what’s going on at the school. Everyone is full of spirit and very prideful. It makes me happy our football team is being responsible and it’s turning the whole community around."
The Rebels remain positive on their status as a legitimate contender for a state championship run this season.
Four of Weld Central's six victories have been determined by at least a 30-point victory margin. The Rebels took down Valley 28-21 last weekend, and now turn their focus to beating Brush, a perennial football powerhouse that lost 28-14 to Valley on Friday night.
The Rebels' last three games of the season will be the toughest, going up against Brush, Sterling and then Platte Valley, respectively.
Canaday spoke in the huddle after the Fort Lupton game and really stressed not letting the teams' goals slip away.
"Go out and dominate. Take care of your grades. Don't do anything stupid this weekend," Canaday said, as other coaches echoed similar variations of that message to the team.
Senior captain running back/linebacker Alex Ries said the team has really been coming together and playing very well upon preparation, determination and never giving up.
"We haven’t had a winning streak in so many years and it feels incredible to have that right now," Ries said. "We’re trying our hardest to come out on top. We've always been a great fundamental team and that’s what we’ve been really working on."
He added: "We have the talent and heart to be the championship team."
No doubt the coaches are a huge chunk of Weld Central's recent success. Canaday implemented summer workouts like the team had never done before when he started in 2015.
With more than 20 years of coaching experience, he came from Monte Vista and started the Rebels out with a basically clean slate of nine assistant coaches, bringing his offensive coordinator with from Monte Vista, and keeping defensive coordinator Haffner, who is a Weld Central alum.
"I started the team on summer workouts and the kids just really bought into hard work and perseverance," Canaday said. "They bought into setting goals, and it really carries over season after season. We've been meeting expectations, and our 13 seniors are all great leaders and have been developing the younger players to become leaders and the program is heading in the right direction."
The team has been feeling the emotion of playing hard and getting better. Canaday said each week a new player comes out big and realizes his role.
"I don't mention any standout names because there are new guys making big plays every week," Canaday said. "It's important for athletes to understand their roles on the field."
Senior quarterback Bryan Gudka has been having a phenomenal running season and has improved on his passing as well.
"And our wide receiver, DeVante Fleming, hasn’t dropped the ball this season," Ries said.
He added: "We just have the best coaches that we’ve had in a long time. They all talk after the game and are always motivating and supporting us."
Canaday his coaches are true leaders, and along with his excellent staff and players buying into dedication to the program, Weld Central has as good a shot as anyone else at the 2A title.
"As long as we keep practicing right and stay stable and don’t get high-headed, we think we have what it takes."