Week 8's Denver Broncos high school coach of the week is Platte Canyon football's Mike Schmidt, but he sees the individual honor as more of a staff award. "I have great assistants, and we've been together for a long time," Schmidt said. "Our success has to do more with their coaching than mine. I wish the award was called 'Broncos coaching staff of the week,' because they definitely deserve that recognition." The coaching staff consists of defensive coordinator Lance Gunkel, and varsity assistants Mark Hancock, Joe Linnehan and Jim Owsiany. "Nate Carrigan, a deputy killed last February, is also part of our staff too, and is obviously here with us in spirit," Schmidt said. Class 1A's No. 5-ranked Huskies improved to an undefeated mark after picking up a huge win against Clear Creek on Friday. Platte Canyon has allowed no more than 14 points in a game all season and has doubled opponents in scoring in every game except for the last 18-12 victory.
Years coaching: 22 (current record: 8-0)
Years at Platte Canyon: 17 (1999-present)
Previous stops: Newbury High School (Ohio) head coach 1995-1999; Coachella Valley High (Calif.) head coach/assistant 1992-1994; Occidental College (Calif.) 1987-1991
Q: Why do you coach?
I coach because I enjoy working with young students, it has been mainly boys in football, but I've coached other sports as well. It's an opportunity for adults to help shape these kids for great things in their futures. Sports is one of the few tangible ways to do that, and I get great enjoyment from it.
Q: Why do you coach the way you do?
We want our kids to have fun and we're probably a little looser than most squads, but we try to make sure they understand the game. We want to do our best and prepare our best, but in the end it's just a game, and we hope the players have great, enjoyable experiences from this program.
Q: What's it like to be coached by you?
My son, a senior on the football team, would probably give a better answer. We really care about the kids and try to do our best for them in terms of getting prepared. They know we take it seriously, but not that seriously. We know it's more about fun and creating good memories for these kids.
Q: How do you define success in coaching?
If my players are successful beyond high school, and they become happy, productive citizens beyond this. If we have a small part in that, it's success.
Q: What's your most meaningful experience with a team or player?
We create moments every day in practice that are memorable and fun, and for me to narrow it down to just one moment would be very difficult. There have been a lot of big wins, some on the state level and some not, and I've enjoyed them all. But it's not just about wins, I've enjoyed all my time coaching.
Q: Please describe the last few minutes, rather seconds, of that wild Clear Creek ending.
We practice two-minute drills twice a week, and we've been running a very similar system for that for 15 years. Someone who played here even 10 years ago could watch and know exactly what's happening. We got big runs from Trevor Sander and Mathias Johnston to put us in scoring position when we were out of timeouts and the clock stopped with 4.7 seconds left in regulation. Worst case scenario, we were going to overtime, but we didn't want that; we wanted to win. We threw an incomplete to stop clock, and at ten yard line with one play left. Clear Creek was defending the end zone and the outside lines, like they should have been, and so we rolled the dice and ran a quarterback trap and my son, Otis Schmidt, got in the end zone, barely — thank goodness his mom is tall! Our guys blocked it beautifully and Otis (6-foot-2, 185 pounds) finished off the play.
Q: Describe what the family element was like in this moment — your wife said it was emotional for everyone.
My family has been terrific in supporting Otis and me. Georgia, my daughter, is an 8th grader helping us out as a water girl. My wife and I were high school sweethearts and went to college together, and she's seen me play and coach since I was 17. It's amazing to have your son in that position, and he's worked very hard to get to where he is, and it was a very great moment for our family.
Q: What are your thoughts going into, arguably, your toughest game yet on Friday against No. 3-ranked Bennett for the Foothills League title?
I know their head coach really well, and we've known each other for a long time. It's a good rivalry, and Bennett (7-1) is a very good team. We're both playoff teams, so it doesn't have quite the tension as a playoff game would, but we hope to play well and they are definitely a formidable opponent.