Zac Lemon believes that all a team needs is a chance to compete. Anything is possible at that point. Just look at last year's Class 2A playoff game against top-seeded Platte Valley. Logic said Eaton (the No. 8 seed) didn't have a chance. The second the Reds took the field, Lemon believed there was a chance and, more importantly, he had convinced his players. "We've always said all we have to do is get into the playoffs and we can be dangerous," Lemon said. "One of the expectations we have for players is we don't mind if you make mistakes, just don't make them over and over again. Fix your mistakes and we hold ourselves as coaches to that same standard." Eaton ended up winning the game 9-6. A loss to La Junta the next week ended the playoff run, but it didn't erase the pride that Lemon felt watching his boys do something many would say is improbable. In his fifth year as coach at Eaton, Lemon holds a 31-15 overall record. He has maintained a steady hand in the position and he has made his kids winners both on the field and off. After a 34-0 win over No. 10 D'Evelyn last week (his 100th win of his career), Lemon was an easy choice as this week's Denver Broncos High School Coach of the Week. The Broncos High School Coach of the Week is selected in partnership with the Broncos and CHSCA.
Years as head coach: 11 (100-35 overall record)
Years at Eaton: 4 (31-15, 2-0 this season)
Previous stops: Delta High School (assistant football coach 2003-06); Hotchkiss High School (head coach 2007-13); Eaton head coach (2014-present).
Q: Why do you coach?
Lemon: I want to make an impact on young men the way my coaches did for me when I was young.
Q: Why do you coach the way that you coach?
Lemon: It's just instinctive. When you first get into coaching, you read about guys that have example coaches. But the thing they always tell you is don't try to be someone you're not. As soon as you figure out who you are as a coach, that's when you become really successful. When you realize what you do instinctively and what you do naturally is when you're going to be at your best, not trying to be like someone else. The way I coach is the way it comes naturally to me.
Q: What do you think it's like for those young men to be coached by you?
Lemon: Players know that I really care about them. I get on them in a way that makes them better and they trust that. I'm always someone that can be there for them off the field.
Q: What are your favorite coaching memories?
Lemon: Honestly it's when the guys that have graduated call me, text me, come back and talk to me and I know that our relationship was more powerful than just the years that I had been coaching them. That it's lifelong.
Q: After beating Platte Valley last year as the No. 8 seed, and even though you didn't come away with a state title, did you and your boys come into this year feeling like you had momentum?
Lemon: Oh yeah. Success breeds success. It doesn't matter who we play, but the more playoff games we win, the more experience we have winning, the more we learn how to overcome challenges and still find ways to win, that always helps. Year after year, winning breeds winning and when we get that culture of winning it doesn't matter who we play and I hope that continues year after year and keeps getting better.