ARVADA — After nearly two decades leading Pomona High School’s football program, Jay Madden officially stepped down as head coach this week.
“Number one is I’m tired. I’ve been doing this a long time and the stuff that goes along with being a head coach wears you out,” Madden said in a phone interview Tuesday morning. “I love coaching. I love kids. I love football. I’ll probably never quit coaching.”
Madden will remain as a teacher at Pomona. He has a few more years before retiring from teaching and wants to focus on being a father.
“It was time to not be the boss anymore,” Madden said. “It’s time to be a dad. I’ve got a son who will be a sophomore in high school next school year. I can be his dad for three years, recharge my batteries and hopefully go back and do this all over again.”
What Madden — 1986 Pomona graduate — has done as a high school football coach in Colorado since his first head coaching job at Alameda in 1995 is impressive. He spent five seasons at Dakota Ridge (1996-2000) and two years at Mullen (2001 and 2002) before heading back to his alma mater for an 18-year stint.
At Pomona, he guided the Panthers to the Class 5A state quarterfinals each year except for once since 2008. As one of the smallest 5A football schools in the state, the Panthers advanced to the state semifinals six times and played in four state championship games (2009, 2015, 2016 and 2017), including winning the 5A title in 2017 over Eaglecrest.
“Honestly, I had no idea,” Madden said of his goals when he took over the Pomona football program in 2003. “At the time I was just glad to be back in Jefferson County. I had been told when I took the job that it was never going to be the same as the glory days. We were going to prove them wrong and I believe we did that.”
There are numerous on-field memories that Madden will never forget. The state championship victory at Mile High Stadium, a 2011 victory over Mullen and even this season defeating rival Ralston Valley with a last-second field goal.
“Eighteen years is one spot is a long time. It was a good run, that’s for sure,” Madden said. “We did it the right way. We grew where we were planted and made this a great place.”
Walking away from a program that Madden spent 18 years building into a perennial powerhouse was difficult.
“There is never an easy time to step down because you always have another great group of kids that you love,” Madden said. “Number one is I’m going to miss the players. The before practice time. The weight room time. The times where the kids are just being kids. And I’m going to miss my assistant coaches.”
Pomona athletic director Mike Santarelli has the task of finding Madden’s replacement. That won’t be an easy to replace Madden who racked up a 218-86 record as head coach over 26 seasons.
“Jay is probably the best Xs and Os coach I’ve ever seen,” Santarelli said. “He is always one step ahead of everybody. He does an outstanding job of getting his players ready for games.”
Santarelli added that Madden’s ability to adjust from year-to-year when it comes to highlighting the strengths of his players is unmatched.
“We just have to start looking,” Santarelli said. “We are changing. Demographics and interests aren’t the same. COVID hasn’t helped us either. We’ve got to get someone who is willing to put the time and effort in.”
Madden said there wasn’t an extra pressure taking over his alma mater back in 2003, but there was extra pride building up Pomona were he had been around since when his father became the freshman football coach in 1980.
“We’ve had some great kids. Great coaches and a great community,” Madden said.