Blair is league’s top coach … once again
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
If 3A Western Slope League Coach of the Year awards were accompanied by plaques or trophies, Brian Blair’s mantle would be filling up quickly.
Between his gigs as Coal Ridge High School’s boys and girls soccer coach, the young English teacher now has four such honors to his name – two on the boys side and two on the girls side.
Blair earned No. 4 by leading Coal Ridge’s boys to a 16-2 record and state quarterfinal appearance this past fall. And, as he’s done each time he’s won the award, Blair deflected credit to his players.
“I think it’s a reflection of the fact the team plays the right way and isn’t disrespectful,” he said. “When I’m at those meetings, that’s what I’m looking for in other teams. I think that’s a reflection of our kids.”
Blair’s path to becoming an award-winning coach wasn’t exactly mapped out in advance. He came to Coal Ridge to teach at the start of the 2006-07 school year and, before he knew it, he was coaching soccer.
“I came up here and got the teaching job, not even thinking about coaching,” said Blair, who played four years of high school soccer at Aurora Central. “They said, ‘Hey, we need somebody to coach soccer.'”
So Blair started out as an assistant with the boys program under head coach Shawn McElroy. Midway through the 2006 season, McElroy abruptly quit, leaving both the boys and girls jobs to Blair.
“The same guy was the head coach of the girls team,” he said. “Nobody else really applied.”
Though he unexpectedly fell into the posts, Blair has taken ownership of both programs.
He led the girls to back-to-back league titles in 2009 and 2010, guiding the Titans to a combined 29-3-3 record during that stretch. He coached the boys to a 10-6 record and their first postseason appearance in 2009 before reaching the 3A state quarterfinals with the 2010 team.
It’s safe to say Blair’s grown as a coach since becoming the face of Coal Ridge soccer.
“Oh definitely,” he said. “It’s not only your understanding of the game or how to get these guys to do what I want to see happen on the field. Coaching is so much more the other part, how to help the team together and really trust each other and, basically, learn from your mistakes.”
If he keeps learning on the job, there’s no telling what Blair might accomplish in the years to come.
Coal Ridge’s postseason accolades weren’t exclusive to Blair.
The Titans also boasted the league’s Player of the Year honor, which went to Alfonso Hernandez. The senior led the team with 21 goals.
“I think he’s definitely deserving of that honor,” Blair lauded. “He had a great year. There are a lot of very good players in our league, but week in and week out, Alfonso showed himself to be in a class of his own.”
Joining Hernandez on the all-league first team were fellow seniors Eliel Ruiz, Luis Pena and Dylan Cook. Sophomore Jorge Hernandez and junior goalkeeper Tyler Guettler were honorable mentions.
Juniors Kevin Hartmann, Mike McGraw and Cane Albrecht were Glenwood Springs’ All-4A WSL selections.
Hartmann was the Demons’ lone first-team selection, while McGraw and Albrecht made the list as honorable mentions.
Glenwood finished up a hard-luck season with a 5-9-1 overall record.
Roaring Fork, which finished up with a 10-5-1 record and advanced a round deep into the 3A state playoffs, was awarded five all-league selections.
Juniors Sam Carpenter and seniors Saulito Vega and Dalton Handy made the first team, while seniors Roberto Ramirez and Antonio Madrigal were honorable mentions.
Junior Frank Rivas was Rifle’s lone All-3A WSL first-team pick. Senior Fernando Carreon earned an honorable-mention nod.
The Bears finished up 2010 with a 4-10-1 overall record.
Two Grand Valley players were selected to the All-3A WSL roster.
Junior Miguel Mancinas earned a first-team selection, while senior Oscar Diaz made the list as an honorable mention.
The Cardinals went 1-14 in their first year of varsity play.
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