New Sierra High School head football coach Shane Rowland runs practice at the school Thursday, August 20, 2015.
For Sierra’s football program, it’s too much of a good thing.
In May, Shane Rowland became the third coach in four seasons for the Stallions, who are eager to turn a new page after a tumultuous offseason when they host La Junta at 7 p.m. Friday at Memorial Stadium.
“We can’t control who is coaching us, but can listen to our coaches, do what they say and work together and do the best we can, no matter who is coaching us,” junior tight end and outside linebacker Elijah Williams said during practice earlier this week. “It’s tough to learn something new every year, but a lot of times in life, you have to face adversity. We want to come out and perform and show what we can do.”
Sierra started 5-0 last season, but ended with five straight setbacks, then later saw its popular coach and alumnus, Phil Jackson, suddenly and inexplicably terminated despite public and emotional outcry. Still no reason has been given for his firing.
That’s history now, and Rowland, a former Harrison defensive coordinator and wrestling coach, points to a strong future with new players with a desire to start from scratch to make a difference.
Meanwhile, La Junta, which also went 5-5 last year but won three of its last four regular-season games to reach the 2A playoffs, has been coached by Clint Buderus since 2008. Such continuity could do wonders for Sierra.
“Time builds relationships,” Williams said. “We already have a good relationship now. We just have to keep moving forward. We have a lot of talent here.”
“I do believe we can build this program,” senior lineman and linebacker Isaiah Rael said. “There’s always room for improvement. We’re just grateful to have a coach and a team to play for. Sure, it’s difficult at times, I can’t lie. We struggle learning plays. Our coaches are there to help us and be coaches. We’ll pull through. A lot of us are used to struggling. Getting to face adversity, as we’re going on as people, is a great thing.”
Regardless the circumstance, the show must go on.
“No matter what, Sierra is going to be playing someone on Friday, and I’m proud to be part of what’s going on with Sierra,” said Rowland, a Colorado Mesa graduate who helped Fruita Monument to six league titles and two state-championship game appearances in four seasons before landing a full-time teaching position at Harrison. “I’ve made my home here, and I have a strong sense of community. We’ve all been willing to put in the time and effort over the summer. We’re ready to write a new chapter.”