Coming off a season in which they won two of their eight games, several members of the Montezuma-Cortez High School football team have banded together to take part in a rigorous offseason program.
Led by head coach Scott Conklin, assistant coach Jared Watkins and other members of the M-CHS coaching staff, players have consistently shown up in the weight room for voluntary after-school workouts.
Many of the players that have attended, including Ike Dennison, Vinny Conklin, Cordell Baer, Zeke Vargas, Cole Herrmann and Kale Hall will be seniors next season, but M-CHS coaches emphasized that younger players have been working hard as well.
“We’re working hard all year-round,” Scott Conklin said. “We’re trying to build (our program) up, and it takes a lot of dedication. We’ve been lifting since football ended, and we’re just hoping that we can keep the numbers going so that we can build a program and sustain six or seven wins a year.”
While building strength through weight training has been a focus of the Panthers’ offseason program so far, coaches are looking forward to implementing a new speed and agility program that will be run by Watkins.
Speed and agility workouts will take place on the M-CHS practice field behind the new high school, which is just steps away from the school’s weight room, which includes a full array of free weights and other lifting equipment.
“Everything is new and the weight room is great,” Conklin said. “The new facility is great, and we really appreciate it. We have a new speed and agility program coming, and we’re excited.”
In addition to its offseason work at local facilities, the Panthers are planning to participate in a team camp at Colorado Mesa University, which will begin on June 3 and end on June 6.
Twenty-four Panthers will attend the camp and take part in controlled scrimmages against players from Grand Junction Central High School, El Dorado High School in Nevada, Evanston High School in Wyoming, and Union and Kearns high schools in Utah.
In addition to the team scrimmages, players will be broken into position groups and will receive individual coaching from Colorado Mesa University head coach Russ Martin and several CMU assistant coaches.
“We actually stepped it up this year and went to a bigger camp with bigger schools because of the competition that we face in our conference with Bayfield and Alamosa,” Conklin said. “Two years ago, we went to the (CMU team camp) and got beat up a little bit, but we’re going back there (this year), and we’ll compete really well.”
Asked about his hopes for the team next season, Conklin said that a six- or seven- win season is within reach given his team’s offseason work and the fact that 16 seniors will suit up next season and at least 12 of those seniors will likely start at their position.
“(Twelve) is a big number (of seniors), and these guys have been playing ball for a long time together,” Conklin said. “I’ve coached some of these kids for 10 years. We’re trying to build the program.”