Pueblo South football won its first state championship. The man to lead them there? Ryan Goddard, who just finished his eighth season as coach of the Colts. After going a combined 3-17 from 2011-12, Goddard has directed the steady rise of Pueblo South. Since 2013, his teams have gone 47-14. Included, of course, is the 13-1 finish this season in which the Colts claimed the Class 4A championship with a win over traditional power Pine Creek. But it's not just the success Goddard has had. It's the type of coach that he is. Goddard models the InSideOut coaching philosophy that promotes sports as a growth experience, something above wins and losses. "I think they understand that we're trying to make them better people," Goddard said of his players in October. "I hope that's what they get out of practice and games and all our summer workouts. Not only become a better player, but become better people." For all these reasons, Goddard has been named the 2017 Denver Broncos High School Coach of the Year.
Years as head coach: 8 (55-37 overall)
Years at Pueblo South: 8 (55-37)
Previous stops: Pueblo South assistant (2003-09); Pueblo South head coach (2010-present).
Q: Something you mentioned at the press conference [before the title game] was that you guys were representing more than your school and your team. Can you dive into that a bit?
Ryan Goddard: When I talked about that at the press conference, I was talking about a number of things. First: representing our community. That's something we talk to our kids about throughout the season, throughout the school year, is how we're always representing more than ourselves, and trying to be a part of something greater than ourselves. Just having the opportunity to represent our community — which is such a great high school sports community — there's not a place that you can go in town right now without someone just showing their gratitude to us and what we accomplished. I was just so extremely honored and humbled that our kids were able to represent Pueblo. Pueblo's an extremely proud place, and when Pueblo is going to take on whoever for a state championship, or in a state playoff game — you know, the week before, we had 6,000 people in the stands for a semifinal game. The first time I looked up into the stands [during the championship game at Mile High] was right before kickoff, and it was just like, "Wow, Pueblo showed up." I was impressed, and I kind of expected Pueblo to show up, but I think for people that hadn't seen Pueblo support, I think it was just an amazing sight. Even more so than that, it being our first time in 59 years, there were so many people that laid the groundwork and put in so much time and effort into our program before I ever got here as a player, as an assistant coach — there were just so many people that we were trying to represent and make proud.
Q: What was your final message to your players before kickoff?
Goddard: (Laughs) Actually, we ran out of time. It was pretty brief, it was pretty quick. There wasn't much that I had to say to get them going. They were all excited, very focused on the things that we needed to accomplish, and kind of the process of how we're going to get there. I think the last thing that I told them was, "Let's just go out and compete for as long as we possibly can. Let's just go out and have fun, and let's go do it with our brothers." That was pretty much it. Like I said, we basically ran out of time. We got back in the locker room, and I looked up and I'm like, "Oh, we better hurry, because we've got to get out for the national anthem." And it was a quick prayer, 30-second speech from coach, and we went jogging back out.
Q: You guys came out firing [taking a 13-0 lead in the first quarter]. I think everyone in the stadium was like, "Whoa." What's that like, and did that give you guys some confidence?
Goddard: What we've done all year is take a lead. The first time we'd actually trailed in regulation was in the semifinals against Broomfield. We went down 7-0. But that was the only time we had trailed in regulation all season. I think that's kind of been our mentality: We wanted the ball, we wanted to get down the field, and we wanted to score as quickly as we could. Because we wanted to set the tempo for the game. We got stopped on our first possession, but then our defense went out and got a stop right away, as well. And then we kind of got settled in a little bit offensively. I think, as we got on the field, one of the things that I think helped our kids was being able to go to the press conference on Tuesday, and having so many of our seniors that were just key players for us — because it wasn't a shock to them at that point. But I'll tell you what: When I stood at the 50 in the center of the stadium and I looked around, it was a little breathtaking. It's just incredible. But I think our kids kind of settled in after that first series. You know, they did the things that we've coached them to do, that we've prepared them to do. And you know what? We've got really, really good players that execute on a high level, and that makes our job so much easier as coaches. And when those kids are having fun and just playing hard, it's a special thing.
Q: So what's it like, then, when you win the game and get handed the trophy? What is that feeling like?
Goddard: I was fortunate enough to win a basketball state title as a senior at South. And I remember that moment. [CHSAA assistant commissioner] Bert Borgmann actually handed me the trophy. But I sprinted to get that trophy. And in this moment, I was just so happy for our kids. People have asked me, "Is it better as a player or as a coach?" And I think that this one is just so amazing, one, because this is a football state championship, and something that our school hasn't accomplished; but, two, it was about 65 other people and just the opportunity to serve 65 other people — whether it was a player or an assistant coach, or whatever — just the opportunity to serve others and give someone else that opportunity to have that special moment in their life.
Q: For a lot of your players, the seniors, this will be the last football game they'll ever play in competitively. What is, or what has been, your message to those kids?
Goddard: We talk about a lot of that during the season. The first thing we talk about is that whenever you prepare for anything in life, you don't want to have any regrets. As you play 14 games, it was the oddest week of practice, just because there was no "next week." You understood that there was no next week win or lose, so it was just kind of odd. One of the first things I mentioned to our guys postgame was that this wasn't going to be the best moment in their life, how this was going to be an opportunity that they could look back on and understand the things that got them to this point. We had a couple of mottos this year. We started off the year with our summer workouts with the motto "Uncommon." That was just basically, we're going to do common things in an uncommon way with uncommon effort. So we talked about how that got us to where we were to start the season. Just paying attention to detail, just focusing on the things that we can control, and doing it to the best of our ability at all times. And the second part was a little bit more about the process and kind of the journey, and that was just our motto of "Chase excellence," and simply just how that relates to life and how you just want to be the best version of yourself. You want to be the best version of yourself today, you want to be a little bit better than you were yesterday. You don't have to worry about anything outside of the things you can control, just be the best version of you. That was something our kids really bought into. I know every quote that [senior wide receiver] Marcell [Barbee] threw out there this week was about "chasing excellence," but I think it's something they believe, and it's something they can relate to and take with forever, as well.
Story and Photo Credit
Ryan Casey / CHSAANow.com