Story by Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com
Photo Credit by Alamosa High School
At just 28 years old, Drew Sandlin is one of the youngest high school football coaches in the state. But that doesn't mean that he's unable to do the job or even afraid to take on the biggest of challenges. That was the case last weekend when he took his Alamosa Mean Moose to the land of the defending Class 2A state champions. The Moose rolled into La Junta as perceived underdogs, but left as the team that shocked the state. And that was his goal, to shock the state. He told his players to do it and they listened to what their first-year coach had to say. They rolled out of town with a 22-6 win, becoming the first team to beat the Tigers in the regular season in nearly two years. For that feat, he has been chosen as the Denver Broncos High School Coach of the Week.
Drew Sandlin bio
Years as head coach: 1 (2-0)
Years at Alamosa: 1 (2-0, 2-0 this season)
Previous stops: Rock Canyon High School wide receivers coach/JV offensive coordinator 2017-18; Alamosa head coach (2019-present).
Mohrmann: How did you originally get into coaching?
Sandlin: After I finished college, I didn't really know what I wanted to do. I just got a history degree and went back to Denver and got in contact with my old high school, decided to go coach football and absolutely fell in love with it, coaching football and baseball as well.
Mohrmann: What was the journey like for you to get to Alamosa?
Sandlin: Yeah, it's been an interesting journey. My fiance is actually from here, so we both finished school at the same time. She was looking for jobs, she's a dentist, and they were hiring down here and it just kind of worked out perfectly. We got really lucky.
Mohrmann: From the perspective of the kids who play for you, what do you think it's like to be coached by you?
Sandlin: I think I'm definitely hard on them. I have really high expectations of them, but I think I'm also a really fair coach. We try to have equity in our relationship and they have a lot of say in the way this program trains.
Mohrmann: What would be one example of that?
Sandlin: We have a team council and I let the team council decide what uniforms we wear, what music we listen to, what our conditioning looks like. They just have a lot of say in the way our team goes.
Mohrmann: What does a win like Friday night do for a program?
Sandlin: That's huge. It can be a program builder. That's a great way to get a program turned around, especially as a new head coach. You get the kids learning into what we're doing and buying into what we're doing as well.
Mohrmann: At what point did you feel like you were in complete control of the game and your guys were in complete control of the game?
Sandlin: It was like right before the (end of the) first half and we punted the ball and they had a pretty good punt return, and there was a penalty. So they had the ball inside the 20 and our defense just came up with a huge fourth down stop and that's when things kind of clicked and I thought we've got this game.
Mohrmann: What did you tell the boys afterwards?
Sandlin: I'm proud of them. Those kids worked really hard this summer. I had them up at 5:45 in the morning every day of the week practicing which is kind of new to them. So I was just proud of all the work that they put in and proud that they're starting to buy everything.
Mohrmann: What's the next step? You want to avoid that let-down game, so how do you make sure that they're focused on the next task at hand?
Sandlin: Yeah, we always try to take it one game at a time, we always play one game at a time and try to go 1-0. Never look forward to the next week. We just got to keep building on the last one.
Mohrmann: On that, what are the lessons you can take from Friday night to make sure that when they're able to, they continue looking at the task at hand while still knowing they have the capability of doing great things?
Sandlin: The biggest thing I preach to them is you, you never know who you're lining up against. My thing last week was shock the state. I kept telling the kids shock the state because very few people believed that we had a chance and now we've got the target on our backs. So people are going to be playing against us thinking that they can beat us.
Mohrmann: I know Alamosa is a very intimate community, so what was the reception that you guys got from that one?
Sandlin: It's been awesome. The community has been nothing but supportive of me and my family in this program. Just the way they appreciated the kids and just seeing people in the hallway today talking to the kids was really awesome.
Mohrmann: What was practice like today? The first practice after the win, what did you guys do on the field?
Sandlin: It was an interesting day. It's our homecoming week so it's a head coach's least favorite week of the year. We had a bunch of homecoming stuff we had to help out with. Our JV team actually had a game today, so we went out and supported them. (We did) a lot of conditioning. I'm hard on them. I conditioned them quite a bit and we conditioned a little bit and then we just went and supported the JV team.
Mohrmann: Is there any bigger pressure of following up a win against the No. 1 team in the state with making sure you get a win on homecoming?
Sandlin: Yeah, I'm sure there's pressure. I try not to feel it. I try to just think about the things that I have control over getting the boys prepared. There's always pressure, but I try not to let it affect us.