Troy Ward has learned very quickly that consistency is crucial when building a successful football program.
Ward is in his second year as head coach for Rampart after being on staff for five years before that as defensive coordinator. Coach Rob Royer's departure led to Ward being named as the new coach and he's been able to keep things consistent while putting his own twist on the program.
Ward started 1-4 as coach of the Rams but has gone 8-2 in his last 10 games. The only blemish for Rampart this year was an overtime loss to Vista Ridge but it was just last week that the Rams beat Class 4A RPI No. 1 Fountain-Fort Carson 17-14.
With such a signature win for his team, Ward earned this week's distinction as the Denver Broncos High School Coach of the Week.
The Broncos coach of the week is selected in partnership with CHSAA and the Broncos.
Troy Ward bio
Years as head coach: 2 (9-6)
Years at Rampart: 2 (4-1 this season)
Previous stops: Mitchell assistant coach/defensive coordinator (2002-13); Rampart assistant coach/defensive coordinator (2014-18); Rampart head coach (2019-present).
Q: Why do you coach?
I coach for the connection and impact that we can have on the kids. We strongly believe here at Rampart that we have to take advantage of every single day of the four years that we have with these kids so that we impact the next 40 years of their life.
Q: What do you think it's like from their perspective to be coached by you?
I'm called grumpy a lot. So it's a good thing that have other coaches that are a lot nicer than I am. In all seriousness, the relationship that we build with our kids here, it's one of mutual respect. They know the expectation is that they show up every day, work hard and get better. That is an expectation that we make clear to them from the time they come in as freshmen until they graduate and have their last practice as a senior.
And that builds a mutual respect between the coaches and the kids. They know that we're not here just for wins and losses. We're here to A.) see them walk across the (graduation) stage as a senior and B.) go on and be good members of society.
Q: Do you think the continuity part with you being on staff for so long and then being named head coach when Rob (Royer) left, helped with that relationship aspect?
Absolutely. None of the expectations changed. None of the overall system things changed. Obviously, I put my own little spin on it, but the system that Rob helped install here and the program success that he had here definitely carried over.
The coaching staff didn't change at all when he left other than the fact that he was gone. So, the continuity for the last seven years has been here. We all know and respect each other. We understand everything about the offense, defense and special team system.
Q: In a shortened season that a lot of people might have thought wasn't going to happen, just how crucial can it be to a program to get the kind of win you did last Thursday, regardless of what happens for the rest of the season?
It's incredibly important for the kids to build on that confidence and success that we had against Fountain-Fort Carson, but in reality, that success started in the overtime loss to Vista Ridge. When we lost that game, our kids played incredibly well in that game. And it came down to a 2-point conversion and we came up one point short, but our kids came out of that game knowing that we can play with anybody and we can beat anybody.
So last week against Fountain-Fort Carson, it wasn't a surprise to our program. Our kids show up every day, work hard and they get better. They're not afraid to play anybody.
Q: Does it help when you have an established leader on the field like Cale Cormaney? How much does he mean to your program and how much does he help you as an on-field leader?
Cale is a great player. But even more than that, he is a great leader on this football team. But it's not just Cale. We have a group of seniors that is providing us leadership, both in production and behind the scenes, guiding these young, younger guys in how to produce in our system and how to live up to our expectations.
Our leadership this year from our seniors has been better than we've had in the last four years.
Q: With COVID-19 just wreaking havoc on everyone's life and especially high school football, what do you tell your kids for the rest of the season, whether you have them for one more week or whether you get them for three more weeks?
Since we were allowed to start in June, the message has been the same, enjoy every single day and treat it as if it's our last day because you don't know. We come out here every day that any football team is allowed to practice, play a game, be together as a team. It is a gift right now. We do not take anything for granted. And honestly, we try to make every single day count.
Q: Everyone knows that kids are resilient, but what have you seen in the resiliency for your team specifically that has impressed you and your staff?
They have great attitudes. One phrase that they hear all the time from us is attitude and effort. It goes a long way. We had a possibility — it ended up not happening — two weeks ago of half of our team quarantined. And that happened during a practice where half of our team had to go home. It ended up not happening, the quarantine was false.
But immediately, every kid that was out there after the other half of the team left, they were having fun. They were like, okay, let's go. We're playing Ironman football. So their attitude about day-to-day changes, being able to adapt and overcome, it has never wavered. They never lowered their heads. They never get upset. They just take it and move on.
Q: What are you going to tell future classes about what the kids had to endure this season to help them maintain that attitude to enjoy every second and relish every moment?
We have to take this experience right now, but both as a coaching staff and as a program, as a whole and build off it. The lessons that our kids are learning right now as freshmen all the way through these seniors are things that they're going to use for the rest of their lives on how to adapt to things that happen.
Life is tough and we are grateful in this high school that we have overall very good families, very good academics in the school, but our kids need to learn that life is not going to be easy. It's not going to be kind to them.
So in the future, we're just going to keep reminding them that anything can happen. You never know.