Experience counts for new Grand Valley High football coach | PostIndependent.com

Experience counts for new Grand Valley High football coach

Jon Mitchell
Citizen Telegram Sports Editor
First-year Grand Valley High School coach Tim Lenard, center, talks to members of his football team during weekly 7-on-7 football drills at Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale. Lenard, who has close to two decades as an assistant football coach, was hired in the spring to be the Cardinals' head coach.
Jon Mitchell / Citizen Telegram |

CARBONDALE — Tim Lenard has had a little bit of time to gain some coaching experience since his first gig as a head football coach close to 20 years ago. It’s safe to say that he’ll be able to use that experience to his advantage at Grand Valley High School.

Lenard, a former assistant football coach at Grand Valley and Rifle over the past decade, was named the new head coach of the Cardinals this past spring. He takes over the program for Danny Manzaranes, who ran the program only for the 2014 season but resigned due to time-commitment issues.

“We’re kind of in a position where we have to change the culture of this program again,” said Lenard, who takes over a program which went 0-9 last season. “That’s what we’re looking to do, and it seems like we’re on the right track to do that.”

Lenard was an assistant coach under Manzaranes and former Grand Valley coach Mike Johnson for the past three seasons. Prior to that, he’d served as an assistant coach at Rifle from 2005 to 2009 and, before that, was an assistant at Grand Valley under Burt Gonzalez and was the head coach for one season at Springfield High School.

Needless to say, he’s learned a lot since then.

“That year [at Springfield] … looking back at that, I wasn’t quite ready for that,” the 45-year-old Lenard said. “I think the fact that I have some more experience not and the fact that I’ve been around some real quality coaches has helped make me ready for this job.”

The year that Lenard took over at Springfield was the 1995 season when the school still had an 11-man football program. The Longhorns finished the season 1-9 that year but played in the same league as Limon, a program that has won an all-classification best 16 state championships.

It’s a similar situation for Lenard with Grand Valley, which is in the Class 1A Western Slope League with annual contenders like Cedaredge, Hotchkiss, Meeker and Paonia. The Paonia Eagles enter this season as the defending 1A state champions.

“If we won three or four games, just because of the inexperience on our team, I think we’d be pretty satisfied with that,” Lenard said. “Obviously you’d like to do better, but we want to build a foundation here first and foremost.”

Lenard plans to do that with a playbook that fits the personnel the Cardinals have. with that, Grand Valley will switch from the double-wing option attack it used on offense last year to a more wide-open passing offense. It’ll also use multiple defensive fronts in an attempt to confuse opposing offenses rather than overpower them.

The first-year coach feels it’s the best option for the Cardinals, who will likely be undersized from the top to the bottom of the roster. But if the scheme works, Grand Valley’s culture will have changed in two to three years.

“We hope that by then,” Lenard said, “we’ll be competing for a spot in the state playoffs.”

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