Mountain Vista football coach Garrett Looney is ready for a new challenge

Eaglecrest Grandview football

    (Ray Chen/ArrayPhoto.com)

Garrett Looney's life has revolved around football. That was true when he was helping Columbine win perhaps the most historical state championship of all time.

It was also true last year when he was thrust into a position he didn't think he'd have to take on as the interim head coach at Eaglecrest.

Entering 2019, he has a fresh start with a fresh team in Mountain Vista and is looking forward to building on the experience he gained through a life that is intertwined with the game.

"I'm excited for the challenge," Looney said. "We're trying to get these kids back to where they should be and that's getting them to compete in every game that they play. They've been down a few years here so I'm excited and I think the community and the school is excited for a change."

Looney's journey in Colorado high school football can actually be traced back to 1999. At times, a Friday night game can mean everything to a player in the their mid-teens. But the 1999 season at Columbine meant something entirely different to a group of kids. Along with their classmates, athlete or not, Columbine was on the forefront of national headlines due to the tragic shooting on April 20.

Something like that certainly puts football and athletics into perspective and it's something that Looney has tried to help kids understand in his time as a coach.

"I believe that relationships are the most important thing in this business," he said. "If you take care of kids as humans, not just as football players, I think a lot of success can come from that."

Overcoming adversity is something that he's accustomed to and something that he's happy to help kids with. That was the case last year as first-year coach Dustin Delaney unexpectedly resigned early in the season.

Looney is the man who took the helm on an interim basis. The kids didn't ask for that situation and he was up for helping them battle through it.

That mindset to battle was on fully display on Sept. 28 when the Raptors overcame a three-score deficit in the second half to beat Grandview in stunning fashion. Looney helped Eaglecrest get to the playoffs, but when the season concluded the full-time job went to Grand Junction Central's Shawn Marsh.

"I give all the credit to those kids," Looney said. "You really have two choices when your head coach bounces on you. You can either check out and be done for the year or rebound and come together as a group and try to win as many games as you can."

Looney then went for the opening at Mountain Vista which he got in late-January. It was the start of a memorable spring as just a couple months later, Looney and his teammates from the 1999 Columbine state championship team were inducted into the CHSAA Hall of Fame.

"It was long overdue in my opinion, but I'm happy that we got the recognition we did," he said. "It was a great trip down memory lane in going to that ceremony and seeing some of those coaches I hadn't seen since my senior year of high school. It was a great night a great honor. Coach (Andy) Lowry, I can't say enough nice things about him. What a great human being."

Now, the spring is over. Summer has arrived and Looney is excited to get to work with the Golden Eagles.

After going 8-3 in 2015, Mountain Vista was a .500 team for the next two seasons, but slipped to 1-9 last year. A competitor all his life, Looney is determined to get his team back to the for it had in 2015. A winning record and at least one playoff win needs to be the rule in his mind, not the exception.

"We're trying to get the kids to buy back in to the idea that losing records aren't acceptable," he said. "You're going to compete in every game, no matter who the opponent is. That starts with the competition we've been putting out there this spring through this summer. We have great numbers and great excitement for this upcoming season."