Last year, Pueblo South finished on the wrong end of two blowouts.
First, the Colts lost by 40 points to Ponderosa to end the regular season, and then were thumped by 32 the next week by eventual state champion Pine Creek in the first round of the playoffs.
But instead of sulking about the 2016 finish, Pueblo South coach Ryan Goddard made sure the Colts used it as a learning lesson — which they did, en route to a 13-1 mark and the first state championship in the program’s 59-year history.
“Last year, losing to those two teams in back-to-back weeks to end the season set the tone for our offseason,” Goddard said. “It taught our kids a lot about how we needed to go about our business and the type of commitment we needed to have to be an elite team.”
The Colts’ Class 4A title is an accomplishment that earned Goddard, a 2001 Pueblo South graduate who just finished his eighth season as the head man on Hollywood Drive, 2017 All-Colorado coach of the year honors.
Pueblo South’s finish this fall contrasted the agony of last, as the Colts stomped then top-ranked Ponderosa to win the league title Nov. 2, giving them the momentum to slug through the playoffs and past Pine Creek, 25-14, in the state championship Dec. 2.
And though the Colts were certainly equipped with their fair share of firepower — senior quarterback Zach Cozzolino and senior wideout Marcell Barbee are All-Colorado selections, while senior running back Steven Brock was also dominant — Goddard and his staff had to work around the program’s deficiencies in depth and size in order to be successful.
“We did have some challenges in front of us, as we started three offensive linemen that didn’t have a whole lot of experience,” Goddard said. “And defensively, we were playing some guys who may have been defensive backs at another place, but they played linebacker for us.”
Other finalists for All-Colorado coach of the year were Skyline’s Michael Silva, who led the Class 4A Falcons to their first playoff appearance since 1999; Grandview’s John Schultz, who despite several key injuries, guided the Wolves past behemoth Valor Christian to the Class 5A semifinals; Palmer Ridge‘s Tom Pulford, who led the Class 3A Bears to an undefeated season and their first state title; and Pomona’s Jay Madden, whose Panthers won the Class 5A title in their third straight championship appearance.