Story by Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com
Photo by Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics
Among the ways to get noticed as a football team, knocking off the top-ranked team in the state is certainly one of the best. That's exactly what Matt Loyd's Ralston Valley Mustangs did last Friday. Their 24-23 win over Columbine sent shock waves throughout the Class 5A landscape and instantly thrust Ralston Valley into the state championship conversation. Loyd would love to see that for his players, but wins and losses have never been the most important thing to him. Developing his players into better people is his main priority, but he's shown that, when done right, monumental wins have a tendency to pop up every now and then. With just two weeks remaining in the regular season, Ralston Valley now sits at 8-0 and is tied with Pomona atop the 5A Metro West standings. Loyd prefers to keep his focus week to week, but with that focus paying off last week he has been named the Broncos High School Coach of the Week. The Broncos High School Coach of the Week is selected in partnership with the Broncos and CHSCA.
Matt Loyd bio
Years as head coach: 27 (212-84)
Years at Ralston Valley: 21 (8-0 this season)
Previous stops: Bear Creek assistant (1990), Golden assistant (1991-92), Golden head coach (1993-98), Ralston Valley head coach (1999-present).
Dan Mohrmann: What got you into coaching?
Matt Loyd: I decided to be a football coach because of my high school coach, Ed Kintz.
Mohrmann: How did he make that a desirable path for you?
Loyd: I'm not looking for some sob story, but the story is that I've never seen my father. He was the next best thing to a father figure for me.
Mohrmann: From your kids' perspective, what do you think it's like to be coached by you?
Loyd: Hopefully they know I care about them because that's why I'm doing it.
Mohrmann: What are some of your favorite memories from coaching?
Loyd: The best thing is just working with the kids each day. The wins and losses and everything, my sons can keep up with that. But that's not why I got into it in the first place. I just like working with the kids and my no. 1 goal is to make them better men. It's that simple.
Mohrmann: And occasionally when you do that, you get to accomplish something special, like knocking off the no. 1 team in the state. What was the emotion like after that win on Friday?
Loyd: I was very pleased for our seniors because they hadn't beaten Columbine. I was really happy for them. And they had kind of set that as a goal to make that happen. And they did.
Mohrmann: As the game was playing out, was there ever a point where you got the sense like it was going to go your way?
Loyd: I guess I just believe we always have a chance. Until the time runs out, we're going keep trying. Obviously Columbine is a really, really, really good football team and we knew it would be a battle and we have to get the ball last with a chance to at least score and either go for a tie or go for two. There was no chance; there was no way I was going to go for the tie. I was going for two.
Mohrmann: Everyone makes a big deal mostly after a loss about, you know, turning the page and moving forward to the next week, but how do you do that after such a monumental win?
Loyd: That is really what we focus on each week. I realize it's tough after a big win, but one of our captains, JJ Galbreath — we usually get together at the end and then I usually talk — and as we got together he said, "Coach you mind if I say something to everybody?" I said, "Sure, no problem." He basically said, "Hey guys, this is great. Great win, but we have to focus on next week. This isn't all we can do." So the kids had already said it. That's a true story. He asked if he could talk to the team before I could. I said sure. And he had already said, "Guys, this is awesome. It's great that we beat them, but we need to get focused on next week." So it was pretty simple.
Mohrmann: A lot of people have made big deals about certain teams whether it's Columbine, whether it's Cherry Creek, whether it's Valor Christian, what did people find out about your team on Friday night?
Loyd: We've always been a good team, but I guess the way that Columbine was beating opponents with not giving up a lot of points and scoring a lot with the way they run their offense, for our guys to be able to beat them, that's probably the biggest thing. You're going to have to show some toughness and you're going to have to show that regardless of how physical the game is that we can hang with that.
Mohrmann: You talked about how much you enjoy working with the kids and building them into better men, and I'm sure you've dealt with your fair share of heartbreaking losses, so how does this win really help them in that process?
Loyd: To be honest, I don't talk about winning and losing very much. We just talk about going out and do the best we can. That's really how it is. I know our kids wanted to win this game because they had not beaten Columbine since they were in high school. Sometimes you can win a game and not learn anything from it. There are times when you can lose a game and learn a lot. I felt even though we won the game, we learned a lot about ourselves as far as how tough we can be. I'm sure we can still get better, but our kids are in a good mindset. They just focus on things week to week and that's how it should be. Everybody says that, but like I said, it was the kids doing that before I had even said anything.
Mohrmann: What did they all say when they gathered for practice Monday? If they're looking week to week, what was the first thing that was talked about at the first practice following that win?
Loyd: To be honest, it was probably more about the wind. We get a lot of wind at Ralston Valley, and it was windy and cold and they knew regardless of the weather, it's just time to go get the job done. We have to do what we have to do. So that's probably the first thing they were talking about.