Since opening its doors in 2008, Palmer Ridge High School and its football program has steadily built itself into one of the premier teams in the state.
The Bears have only two losing seasons in its 15-year history, and none since 2012. They also boast three-straight Class 3A state titles from 2017-19, as well as a runner-up finish in 4A in 2020.
Head Coach Mike Armentrout took over the helm of the team prior to the start of last season, becoming just the third HC in the program's history. Since taking over, he has continued the storied success, going 10-2 last season with a finish in the 4A state quarterfinals. This season, he has the Bears firing on all cylinders, starting the year a perfect 7-0, ranked No. 1 in 4A, and outscoring opponents 283-102.
Armentrout, this week's Broncos High School Coach of the Week, has guided the team to some tough wins this season, including road wins against ranked opponents in Montrose and Pueblo West, as well as a 48-34 triumph over then No. 1 Ponderosa in Week 5. With the unblemished record, tough regular season competition, and No. 1 ranking, the Bears are looking to ride that momentum to their first 4A title in program history.
Mike Armentrout bio
Overall record at Palmer Ridge: 17-2
Overall record as head coach: 17-2
Previous coaching positions: Has coached RB's, TE's, OL, and DB's. Has coached football at the high school level since 2007. Served on the staff at Cheyenne Mountain from 2007 through 2017, primarily coaching running backs and tight ends.
Quotes from Mike Armentrout
Why do you coach?
Armentrout: I went into college thinking I was going to be an accountant or computer programmer. At the start of my junior year, I felt like God was calling me to become a teacher and coach. I changed my major and began coaching as much as I could. I have been a multi-sport coach since 2005.
Why do you coach the way that you coach?
Armentrout: I have had a lot of great people pour into me. I have coached under some incredible head coaches in the past. Our staff here at Palmer Ridge is also incredible. They constantly provide me with insight and wisdom. I have also coached several sports and each experience gives you something different you can apply to your role as head coach.
What do you think it's like to be coached by you?
Armentrout: I would hope every one of the athletes here at Palmer Ridge feel that I have authentic love for them and will do everything I can to help them be better people. I try to bring effort, passion, and positivity to every interaction I have with each athlete regardless of skill or standing. Lord knows I was not the best athlete growing up and it is important to me that each athlete feels valued.
What has been your favorite memory from being the HC at Palmer Ridge?
Armentrout: My favorite memory has to be when we won in double overtime of last year's 2nd round and my family came down afterwards. My wife gave me the biggest hug and my two little girls joined in. It is one of my favorite family embraces of my life. My wife and girls were crying and smiling. Then I threw the football to my girls for a bit and just enjoyed the moment.
What does the sport of football and this team mean to the Palmer Ridge community?
Armentrout: Monument is an incredible and passionate community. Palmer Ridge is the place I have felt the most loved and respected in my career. They value hard work and authenticity. I am very proud to teach and coach at Palmer Ridge.
How have you and your staff been able to continue the rich football tradition at Palmer Ridge since taking over last season?
Armentrout: There are a handful of guys on staff who have been dedicated to this program for a long time. This core of coaches has been working behind the scenes to ensure the standard of football and character of athletes maintained our focus. That core has stuck together through a lot and continues to work diligently to provide our athletes with mentorship both in football and in life.
Two of your wins against other ranked opponents (Montrose & Pueblo West) have come on the road far from home, how have you and your staff prepared your team for these road tests?
Armentrout: I think you try to create a routine and keep things as close to that routine as possible. Our long-haul trip to Montrose was a big challenge to start the year for sure. There was a lot of planning from our staff and booster club to make sure the trip was a success. I also think setting the tone for the trip early on is important.
Looking back at the Ponderosa game, how did you navigate your team to a win in such a high-profile game (1vs3, media attention etc.)?
Armentrout: Again, I think the focus each week needs to be on the task in front of you. The routine of the week, the preparation from coaches and players, effort in practice…all of these things need to stay the same regardless of our opponent. Coach Carlton, our defensive coordinator, likes to say, "the standard is the standard." I think that is very fitting each week.
Story Written By: Dan Whitaker/CHSAANow.com
Photo Credit: Eric Strom