Cory Archuleta will be the first man to admit that he's not primarily a football coach. But coaching has been a vital part of his adult life. He served as the baseball coach for Manitou Springs for a few years before the football job came open.
Participation numbers were down and the program wasn't the most attractive landing spot at the time, a far cry from the late 1980's and early 90's when the Mustangs were winning state championships.
Archuleta had a strong relationship with the Manitou athletes because of his time with the baseball team. He was the right guy to take the program over when he was hired in 2016. This season, everything is seeming to click for Manitou.
No longer running the single wing offense like the program had done for much of the last four decades, Archuleta credits his staff of (offensive coordinator) Brandon DeMatto, (defensive coordinator) Chad Hartinger and all-around assistant Stu Jeck, for helping the Mustangs usher themselves into a new era.
Now the team is winning and winning big. After topping Manual on April 23 and earning a home playoff game, Archuleta has been named this week's Denver Broncos High School Coach of the Week.
The Broncos Coach of the Week is selected in partnership with CHSAA and the Broncos. Find a complete list of winners on this page.
Cory Archuleta bio
Years as head coach: 5 (19-24)
Years at Manitou Springs: 5 (4-1 this season)
Previous stops: Manitou Springs assistant coach (2012-14); Manitou Springs head coach (2016-present)
* Question: Why do you coach?*
Archuleta: Well, I got into coaching because I wanted to really give something back to the sports that I played growing up and try to help kids develop as athletes and young men. That's probably the main reason I coach and then I really have kept coaching because of the relationships that I've built with other people on my coaching staffs and with the kids that I've coached these last 27 years.
Q: Why do you coach the way that you coach?
Archuleta: I'm just not that prototypical football coach. I coach the kids the way that I coach them to be quality young men and to treat other people with respect. They don't need to be beat down. I'm just more of a simpler-type coach from the standpoint that I'm just not a yeller or a screamer. I'm more of a guy that wants to listen to kids and try to help them and help them develop both on and off the field.
Q: From your players' perspective, what do you think it's like to be coached by you?
Archuleta: I'm hoping that they know that we are as a coaching staff and myself are going to give them everything we have to try to help them become the best players they can possibly be and to squeeze out all the ability that they have, and to make the most of their high school experiences. And I also think that those kids know that I'm not just their coach. I'm a guy that wants to listen to them and understand them and know that they can come and talk to me, not just about athletics, but life problems or anything like that.
Q: Since dropping your first game, the team has played outstanding football. What's been the spark behind the last four wins?
Archuleta: It's just that we've gotten better as a team. And I think that coach DeMatto, our offensive coordinator, and coach Hartinger, our defensive coordinator, have made adjustments to the talent that we have. So, we didn't really have an identity in that first game because we knew we had been missing some kids. We had some talented kids that played in that game, but I think we needed our collective group of kids as a whole; our 31 kids to be able to mesh and to improve as a football team.
Q: The last couple of years have been a struggle. Is this the kind of season, even if it's in the spring, that can reignite passion in football at a school like Manitou?
Archuleta: Absolutely. I'm a Colorado Springs kid, so I've grown up in this since birth. I remember when I was in high school, that Manitou, when coach (George) Rykovich was here, when coach (Rob) Quarry was with him, I remember Manitou was the football school in our city. I mean, you had guys like (former Denver Bronco) Justin Armour walking the hallways and now we've got his kid (Joah) playing for us.
I never thought that the day would come that the interest would kind of die down a little bit with football at Manitou. I always thought there would always be football at Manitou because it was always such a football school. And then the last couple of years, with the way that things have kind of evolved and football's kind of been in the headlines with injuries and other things, I never thought the numbers would dwindle down into the high-teens, low-twenties like we had a couple of years ago.
So, I think that seeing all this, this big senior group of kids finally playing, having the middle school kids watch the games that we've played in, having the elementary school kids watch how we've played this season, I really think that we've gotten over that hump. And I think at Manitou, football and the interest in it is really going to come back strong.
Q: For years, Manitou was known as that school that ran a single wing offense and you guys have very much gotten away from that this year. Is the team establishing a new identity on the field?
Archuleta: Absolutely. And to be honest with you, everything I know about coaching high school football has come from coach Rykovich and coach Quarry. I'm such a protégé of Rykovich and the single wing. That's what he's taught me these last six, seven years that I've been coaching that I've really kind of come to know the single wing.
But Coach DeMatto and Coach Jeck wanted to switch it up a little bit and spark an interest. I think the excitement level of kind of putting the single wing to rest and bringing in something new and exciting really drew the senior group of kids that wanted to have something that was fun, wide open and something that they could really thrive in. And I think that the middle school kids, they're running the single wing one last year this year, but I think the middle school kids see what we've had and how successful we've been. It's been crazy. But yeah, I think the excitement is there.
Q: You head into the playoffs this week against the team you finished the regular season against, is there concern or relief in having to go right into a rematch with Manual?
Archuleta: There's always a concern. I know that the pros say it, the college teams say it all the time, but it's hard to beat somebody twice, especially in back-to-back weeks and especially against a talented group of athletes like Manual has. It's going to be hard to beat those guys twice in a seven-day span. But I like our chances. I like the kids that we have. I like the scheme and the things that we do. And I'm really confident moving forward and going into this one.
Q: You have a lot of kids who don't have a lot of football experience, but those basketball players are coming off a run to the state semifinals. Do you think that'll help fight off any nerves between now and whenever the season ends?
Archuleta: Absolutely. But I also believe that we just have a group of competitive kids, whether they played basketball or they wrestled. We have a couple of wrestlers. We have kids that have given us quality minutes and quality plays this season. We wouldn't be anywhere without the basketball kids, and the wrestling kids and kids that played other sports. We have a talented group of kids. I'm just happy and blessed to be able to coach those guys.
Story Written By: Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com
Photo is courtesy of Angela Guido