The Pagosa Springs Pirate high school football team is gearing up this month for a fresh season with a new head coach who has some innovative ideas about student leadership and the direction he would like to take the team.
“My whole plan with this program is to raise up their character and integrity,” Scott Spoede explained. “That’s my plan with these guys, and I want to win some football along the way. Don’t get me wrong; that’s still a big part of it, but football games come and go. The life lessons we pull from it are what stays with us forever, so when these boys graduate from high school what I want them to have is more depth of character and a sense of integrity that will guide their lifestyle and choices.”
Spoede has been in Pagosa Springs for two years and was an assistant coach last year under head coach Olin Garrison. He has taught seventh-grade math at the middle school and coached the football program there. He was the defensive coordinator for the high school’s varsity team last year, and this year he will be the offensive coordinator as well as the head coach.
Spoede moved here two years ago from Houston, Texas, where he taught math and coached football, so this will only be his fourth year as both a teacher and a coach — a rather quick rise to the head coach position.
“A couple of the guys will be familiar faces,” Spoede said as he described his new coaching staff. “My defensive coordinator is Mike Kelly, and then Todd Shulda will be the JV’s offensive coach. He volunteered last year, and then we hired him on this year. Then we got a new guy in town named Zach Wood. He’ll be the JV defensive coach, but all of us will be coaching on both sides of the ball.”
The team just wrapped up its summer camp last week, which included a scrimmage against Monte Vista. The camp included participation by approximately 25 to 30 boys, who got a good taste for what they will be doing this year.
“I think I was pretty fortunate as far as when I got to step into the program,” Spoede confessed. “Last year, we graduated two seniors, so we had essentially all sophomores and juniors playing last year. I’ve got a lot of experience coming back, so I feel like I am inheriting a pretty strong team.”
The team has been without a coach for nearly six months, since Garrison retired last year, after a fairly dismal season that included only one win and eight losses. It was only his second year as the Pirates’ head coach.
During the six months since Garrison’s retirement, a number of the players moved or decided not to play football. Now, however, things are changing.
“You can tell this group of seniors is pretty focused and motivated,” Spoede said. “They have been in the weight room all summer. We have been going down to the field after our weight room time and just going over some drills and stuff. They want to get in the reps. That’s something I didn’t really see last year; the student leadership just wasn’t really pushing it. This year, it doesn’t seem like we have to pull any strings; they’re self-motivated. I think I fell into a great spot, into something pretty sweet.”
Spoede also coached wrestling at the middle school last year, so he already has a good relationship with students moving up to the high school and has been able to recruit a fairly strong team.
“I’ve got some new guys coming up this year that haven’t played since middle school or have never played before,” the coach explained, “so I’m trying to get a picture of how they will do. It’s hard to get a feel for how your team is going to do at this point. I will know a little bit more after two-a-days.”
Two-a-day practices will start Aug. 12. All high school athletes are required to attend a mandatory orientation meeting on Aug. 15. Then the regular season kicks off with an away game against Centauri on Aug. 31.