Kent Denver football coach Scott Yates has to be doing something right. No one wins 313 high school football games by doing all the wrong things. Even before this season started, Yates was writing his own chapter in Colorado high school football history. This year has only added to his already loaded list of accomplishments. He briefly tied the all-time wins record (until West Grand's Chris Brown broke the record hours later) and led the Sun Devils to a 9-1 record and a No. 6 seed in the Class 2A football playoffs. After a 27-6 win over Weld Central in the first round, he was an easy choice as the Denver Broncos high school football coach of the week.
Q: Why do you coach?
I believe it was what I was meant to do; what I was put on this earth to do. I grew up in an athletic family. My dad was a coach and I think that watching how he impacted young people in such a positive way and being such a big factor in who they became as adults was the magnet that drew me to it.
Q: Why do you coach the way you coach?
First, I'm more of a teacher when I'm coaching. I think a couple reasons. One, it's very fulfilling to see the path you put kids on and help them get to that point (where they succeed), whether that's as football players or importantly, as young adults.
Q: From your players' perspective, what do you think it's like to be coached by you?
I know that they know that I'm all in. I'm all there for them and that there isn't anything I won't do that they might need.
Q: How do you define success through your coaching?
It's funny, I saw a quote the other day that really resonated with me. The answer to that question is really, ask me that in about five to 10 years. Because it gets back to the outcome and what kind of young men are we producing over here. Producing is the wrong word, but our motto is here to take young guys and young gals and help them become great young adults. So the answer to your question is when we see them come back with their own young families and start to see their kids applying to our school and I'm coaching a lot of kids at this point that I coached their parents. Seeing them come back and see what they're doing with their lives is probably the greatest reward.
Q: A lot has been made this year about the number of wins in your career. Did you ever imagine when you started that you would have that kind of success?
Our first year, I was just hoping to find a way to win one. We were fortunate enough that we won two. I never imagined when I started that we would win a league championship. And then that happened. The next thing you know, we're wondering if it's possible that we could win a state championship at this place. That happened and then we just had a good solid program for a long time. Building a program is one thing. Sustaining it is a whole other thing.
Q: You head into the second round of the playoffs this week. Has the message ever changed for you when you've gotten your teams to this point of the season?
You know, every year is so different. In 35 years, I haven't had one year that was the same. I think for me as a coach, just from inside I have to look at it and know that it's not last year, that we need to do something different this year and how do we approach everything? Our team this year is a very young team and so our challenge has been very different than it was last year. But I think the big thing for us is that we're going to prepare hard. We're going to try and do everything right with as few distractions as possible. And that is something that carries over from one year to the next. Preparation and trying to reduce the distractions so that when you show up, you're ready to play and if you win so be it, and if you lose, so be it as long as you've given it everything that you can. That's what I try to do as a coach and I hope that the kids want to do the same.
Q: Coaches always emphasize how much they enjoy teaching young people, but is there ever anything that your players teach you?
Absolutely. They remind me all the time that they're kids. They remind me that I need to be willing, even though I'm older at this point, to change with their times and be able to adapt to who they are and the world they're living in. Whether that's technology or just relationships and their families and those things. I think one of the biggest things for me is whether or not I've been able to stay up with them and what's going on in their worlds.