Familiar face returns to coach Roaring Fork football | PostIndependent.com

Familiar face returns to coach Roaring Fork football

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Jeff Caspersen Post IndependentRoaring Fork football coach Tory Jensen and player Johnny Nieslanik take in the action at a scrimmage in Glenwood Springs earlier this month.

With his professional life settling into a manageable pace, Tory Jensen couldn’t pass up the opportunity to return to Roaring Fork High School football.

When the head coach position came open at the Carbondale school in the spring, the program’s former frontman decided to reassume the post he held from 1997 through 2004.

Jensen, owner of Moe’s Southwest Grill in Glenwood Springs, stepped down as the Rams’ head coach just before the 2005 season as he attempted to get the restaurant off the ground. The business venture left little time for football.

While Jensen remains a busy man, his Moe’s workload has leveled out.

“With my work at Moe’s sort of coming to an even keel, it gave me a chance to jump in and give it a run,” he said.

Jensen never strayed too far from the gridiron, though. He stuck around as an assistant coach at Roaring Fork during the 2005 and 2006 seasons before turning his attention to pee-wee football.

“I really only took kind of one year off,” Jensen said. “My son became a third-grader, so we started the pee-wee program back up in Carbondale. I’ve been helping, with a bunch of guys, to get it back on its feet for the last three years.”

Now he’s hoping to restore the high school program to its former glory.

Roaring Fork, which hasn’t made the playoffs since 2006, was a playoff regular during Jensen’s first stint as head coach. From 1999 to 2006, the Rams didn’t sit out a postseason.

“It’s crazy,” Jensen said. “We were the team that everybody gunned for. As everybody rebuilt their programs – Aspen, Basalt, Glenwood – they were the ones trying to figure out how to compete with us. Now we’re back to square one.”

Regularly fielding rosters with player counts in the low 20s in recent years, turnout has been the Class 2A football school’s biggest issue.

“We need to get in the halls and get some more kids out for football,” Jensen said. “We had a meeting, and a bunch of the kids said they were interested. It’s just getting the kids to come out and commit.”

Jensen’s track record suggests a turnaround is possible. Prior to coaching at Roaring Fork, he spent his childhood playing football in the Charlotte, N.C., area.

“I did the pee wee, middle school, high school routine,” Jensen said. “I was recruited to play for a small college out of high school, but I decided I wanted to go to a big school and stopped.”

Jensen attended the University of Georgia for his undergraduate work. A few years later, in the mid-1990s, he served as a volunteer assistant football coach at Ohio State University while pursuing graduate degrees in social studies education and business administration.

“That’s what sent me into coaching,” he said.

In 1997, Jensen arrived in Carbondale to teach social studies at Roaring Fork High School. A successful run atop the football program followed.

Jensen hopes a second successful run awaits.

“There are plenty of good athletes in the halls,” he said. “It’s just a matter of getting them excited about football.”


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