Pat Engle has learned a lot in his time as a football coach. He's been through his ups and downs while coaching for selfish reasons and later, the right reasons.
He's taken teams to battle against some of the best squads the state has to offer. This season, he's seeing the success of that work as the Demons remain undefeated and sit at No. 2 in the Class 3A football rankings.
Oh, by the way, they went on the road to get a win over Basalt, who held the No. 1 ranking in the classification last week. That win alone is worthy of some recognition. That recognition comes in the form of being named the Broncos High School Coach of the Week.
Pat Engle Bio
Years as head coach: 8 (25-49)
Years at Glenwood Springs: 3 (4-0 this season)
Previous stops: Centerburg (Ohio) head coach (2002); Battle Mountain head coach (2002-06); Glenwood Springs assistant (2010-15); Glenwood Springs head coach (2018-present).
Question: Why do you coach?
Engle: I think the, "why" has changed over the years. This is my 29th season in football as a coach. Early on, if I had to be honest, there were a lot of selfish reasons to coach and now I've just realized that this game has given me so much and I would just like to see the kids experience some of the same joys that I've had with football. And I just want to see the kids do well. We have a good group of kids out here.
Q: Why do you coach the way that you coach?
Engle: When I think back to high school and college football, I saw a lot of good coaching. And I was coached by a lot of good coaches and I was also coached by some coaches that I do things differently from. One of the things that I would say is that every year or whenever I get a new coach on staff, I typically have that coach draw a circle and draw a square. And within the circle I ask them to write down the name of a coach who was absolutely positively transformative and impactful in their lives and in the square, I ask them to write the name of a coach who was kind of that bad guy. That guy who keeps them up at night just a bit. And we have a conversation about the circle and the square, and then I ask them at the end of our conversation, where do you want the kids to put you? I want to be put in that circle for every kid that we have out here at Glenwood Springs High School.
Q: What do you think it's like being coached by you?
Engle: I'm a pretty passionate and pretty fiery guy. My kids, in some ways, with what we just did on Friday night, I think they carried some of that passion into that game. I think that they would say that I'm tough, but I'm fair. They'd probably tell you surprisingly, I don't raise my voice a whole lot, but when I do, it gets their attention. They would tell you that when there's an issue on the field, I'm going to instruct. I'm not going to make them look bad in front of their buddies. I'm just going to show them how to do it right.
Q: Even in a crazy year like this, how much emotional weight comes with a win over a No. 1 team?
Engle: There was a moment in that game, this is just an amazing moment, and it's an amazing game to be a part of but it's exhausting. Coming from Ohio, when I was an assistant coach at my Alma mater and I was the defensive coordinator, I was calling defense against a team by the name of Cleveland St. Ignatius and that team, I believe somewhere from like late 1980's into the early 2000's, won 9 out of 13 big-school state titles in Ohio, and that's not a small accomplishment. And I just remember being on the sideline, calling the defense against that team and I felt the same way. And this is 20 years later, I just felt the same way of every play was contested. Every play was a mental chess match. And it was exhausting.
Q: As much as we always want to say the schedules are tough in the metro areas, you guys on the Western Slope are running a gauntlet for the next few weeks. How do you keep your boys even keeled but also energized for each big game that you face each week?
Engle: We have a 1-0 for the week mentality. We don't look ahead, and that's easy to say but harder to do. To be really honest with you, we've gotten to a point in our season, four games in - almost five games in, there's no question about our ability to hit people. There's no question about our contact. So, we're trying to back things off just a little bit with regards to contact in practice. We don't have a whole lot of it. And I would also say that we have lifted weights pretty much four days a week probably since September, so we haven't really stopped that regimen either. So, we're trying to keep kids as physically fit as we possibly can.
Q: Do you think this is going to benefit this team, doing what you're doing well and not letting that physical fitness part of it drop-off in that gap between this spring and the fall?
Engle: If you can figure out a way for me to replace 19 seniors, I would really appreciate it. All kidding aside, our kids here understand the work that's required to compete. This season is in some ways a direct result of what happened my first two years here, where we played a schedule that included Holy Family, Conifer, Roosevelt, Palisade, Rifle, you go down the list there. And Harrison, all of those teams that I just mentioned, the six teams, they've all made the playoffs. We had a war against Roosevelt two years ago and Lane (Wasinger) and I both looked at each other like that was a war. And Roosevelt finds themselves in the state finals this past fall. Conifer was a state semi-finalist two years ago. Holy Family is always a buzzsaw going in there. I think our kids just have been through some battles that they don't necessarily get credit for.
Q: When you think back to what this entire year has been, what are you going to remember most about the way your boys responded to circumstances that were so far outside of their control?
Engle: We were in a pretty tight ball game against Montezuma-Cortez. It was six hours on a bus, we're not going to make a single excuse, but our first half certainly looked like it was six hours on a bus. And I think the score was 7-7 or 7-6, something like that. I walked into the staging room at halftime and I was about to speak. And then many of the seniors just started rattling off this stuff that we had to do better. And I just sat back and I got quiet. They started talking and talking and talking and talking and all of a sudden I looked up, we had about five minutes to go on the clock. I said, "Everything that they just said, that's what we need to do." And we went out and scored, I think must have scored 21 points, scored three touchdowns pretty quick, and took control of the game. Against Basalt with five turnovers that we lost, playing the No. 1 team in the state at their place with a hostile crowd. It was a pretty big deal out there on Friday. A very similar thing happened when I walked into the staging room. In fact, I had to calm the kids down. They were so adamant that we have to get this fixed and we have to compete and we're better than that. Sure enough, the guys came out and we even fumbled. At that point, we had lost two fumbles and two interceptions. We still fumbled the ball two more times, three more times in the second half. To be that resilient and come back and win was absolutely amazing.
Story Written By: Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com
Photo Credit: Pat Engle