Togetherness a priority for Roaring Fork Rams’ new FB coach |

Togetherness a priority for Roaring Fork Rams’ new FB coach

Jon Mitchell
Jeff Kelley

CARBONDALE — Jeff Kelley has seen the way that the community around Roaring Fork High School has changed in the past decade. As the school’s new football coach, he’s looking to embrace that change.

“I know that Carbondale has gone from being a predominately white ranching school to having a very diverse community,” said Kelley, who was hired this month to run the school’s football program. “We’re going to try to get connected. It has to be a cultural blend.”

That blend is one step that the 48-year-old Kelley — a first-year head coach after 20-plus years as a college and high school assistant — is hoping to incorporate more for the upcoming 2015 football season. One of the head coaches Kelley served as a defensive coordinator for was Tory Jensen, who was fired this past November following his second stint as the football team’s head coach.

Kelley, of course, is speaking of the blend of Caucasian and Hispanic students at the high school, noting that he’d like to reach out to the Hispanic families in the area to encourage their kids to come out play football. He said to do that, he said he’s already spoken with Roaring Fork boys soccer coach Nick Forbes about having some students play both soccer and football — something which has been done at other schools previously but not at Roaring Fork. He’s also all in when it comes to regenerating community interest in the program, even reaching out to former RFHS head football coaches about possibly starting a Roaring Fork football Hall of Fame.

In the meantime, Kelley has hired Greg Holley — Roaring Fork’s head football coach prior to Jensen — as his offensive coordinator while Kelley plans to oversee the Rams’ defense. They’ll take over a football program that finished 2-7 overall least season (1-4 in 2A Western Slope League play) and hasn’t posted a record over .500 since 2006.

That hasn’t kept Kelley from setting high goals, though.

“We want to win the league title,” he said.

Part of that confidence comes from Kelley’s background. Not only did he serve as an assistant under current Glenwood Springs High football coach Rocky Whitworth (2003 to 2004), but he also was the head football coach at Carbondale Middle School from 2010-12. During that time, he coached the players who not only will be juniors and seniors next year, but had a successful season playing football at CMS as seventh- and eighth-graders.

That also ties into the aspect of togetherness that Kelley hopes to install.

“They not only have to like each other, but love each other,” he said. “I know that sounds corny, but it’s true. They have to be willing to play for each other and be committed to each other.”

Commitment goes beyond that, however. Kelley explained that because of the school’s size, he’s realized that he’ll likely get not more than 40 people out for the football team in the fall, and he’s hoping everyone on the roster will stay on the same page.

“You’re talking about a different level of intensity for football here,” Kelley said. “You’re talking about a place where out of 40 kids, there might be 20 of them who would rather be skiing or hunting if the conditions were right. We’ve just got to get these kids, for this 12-week period of the football season, to really fall in love with the game of football. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

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