For the 6-man Stratton Eagles and head coach Jesse McConnell, it's been good to be the top team.
Two weeks into the season, the No. 1 ranked Stratton football team is 2-0, with huge wins over the prior No. 3 ranked teams in their classification.
In week one, Stratton got revenge from the 2021 6-man state championship game, defeating then-No. 3 Cheyenne Wells, 53-6. This past week, Stratton followed that up with a big 70-28 win over then No. 3 Granada.
By laying waste to two other top dogs in the 6-man classification, Stratton's McConnell is this week's Denver Broncos High School Coach of the Week.
Being tops in the classification, and the defending state runner-up, means Stratton will get everyone's best shot as the season progresses. McConnell will try and guide the team through that gauntlet, and maybe to the team's sixth-straight state championship appearance.
Jesse McConnell bio
Years as Platte Valley head coach (record): 2nd season (13-2)
Previous coaching experience: Assistant coach Stratton/Liberty- 2016-2020
Quotes from Jesse McConnell
Why do you coach?
McConnell: I coach for the love of the game and kids. Stratton football taught me so much growing up. I remember that feeling watching guys play when I was young and wanting nothing more than to put that jersey on and play. I learn something new from the kids every day and I really enjoy seeing them grow into great young men by the ends of their careers. Being able to pass on the Stratton tradition to kids that give it their all means the world to me.
Why do you coach the way that you coach?
McConnell: I coach the way that I coach because I've been around a lot of different coaches with different styles. I strive to be my own style and take the qualities I thought were very unique and great from past coaches. I want the kids to play football the way it's supposed to be played. Every practice and game should have its separate challenges because that's what they can expect when they're on their own.
What do you think it's like to be coached by you?
McConnell: Challenging and encouraging! They know I am going to challenge them to be the best they can be as a football player, teammate, friend, and overall person. In my playing career not everyone believed in me but the right people in the right places did and I want to be that person for them whether that be football or not.
What has been your favorite memory from being the HC at Stratton?
McConnell: Coaching in the state title game last year. Didn't work out how we wanted it to but it was good to see them battle for something they really want! Another great memory is seeing kids from the past come to our games now and still have love for their past teammates and school.
What does the sport of football and this team mean to the town of Stratton?
McConnell: It means a lot. Stratton has a rich tradition in football and the past players now either have kids playing or still want Stratton football to be great! Everyone asks how the team is looking and being excited for Friday night! I love seeing people from around town at the games and cheering on Stratton football whether they have a kid playing or not.
What are your thoughts on the success of the first two weeks, defeating the No. 3 team in your classification both times by such a large margin?
McConnell: I feel the team has worked hard in the off-season to try to get back to the final weekend. We've played two really talented, well coached teams the first two weeks and the kids wanted to prove what they can do. We have talked about just playing Stratton football for 4 quarters every week and up to this point we have done that!
Only two weeks into the season, what needs to happen to keep this momentum going throughout the rest of the year?
McConnell: Taking it one week at a time and enjoying the ride. You can't fast forward to the end of the season and expect to come out on top. Each season is a process so taking it one day at a time and focus on getting better every day is key.
Story Written By: Dan Whitaker/CHSAANow.com
Photo Credit: Gabe Christus – Denver Broncos