Published: December 4, 2013
Following the 2010 football season at Doherty, head coach Matt Wibbels and assistant coach Gerry Strabala, a longtime friend, parted ways, eager for new opportunities and a change of scenery.
Wibbels accepted the position of defensive coordinator at Pine Creek, an established program with a playoff legacy and realistic dreams of winning a state title.
Strabala landed at Coronado, a program reeling after recently suffering through consecutive winless seasons. The Cougars hadn't sniffed the playoffs for nearly two decades but had taken baby steps in the first season under coach Bobby Lizarraga.
On Nov. 30, both coaches again shared something in common, helping to lead their respective schools to state football titles.
At Tuesday's assemblies to honor each program's feats, both coaches reveled before their student bodies and alumni, but not because of their roles on the sidelines.
They celebrated the most because each watched his son play an integral role in helping his team hoist their schools' first golden football, memories neither will ever forget.
"To do it with your son (Jackson), to see him get a fumble recovery and run off the field and be at Mile High, it's an all-time feeling," said Wibbels, who also was on the coaching staff of the 1998 Rampart squad that won the 4A title. "The first time, you're very young, but it's still special. It's a better feeling when you're older since you know the hard work that's invested."
Since the 4A title game in Denver started two hours before the 3A championship in Longmont, Strabala was aware of Pine Creek's win.
Later that afternoon, as the sun started to set on Everly-Montgomery Field, Gerry, the Coronado defensive coordinator, had watched his son Ryan - a sophomore starting linebacker like Jackson - help his school win a state title.
"Even before we played that game, I said to him that it would be special just to have shared that time," Strabala said. "To win that game, that's something nobody can take away. We got some good pictures, holding that trophy, that'll be going up on my wall."
Before Saturday, that 1998 Rampart team had snagged the area's last state football title, coming at the 4A level. In the span of a few hours, Pine Creek hit the reset button in that department. Then Coronado, returning to 4A football next year after four years of rebuilding in 3A, made it a Colorado Springs daily double.
On the surface, it looked like an historical day for football in the Pikes Peak region, which it was. But dig a little deeper, and it also marked a day that linked fathers and sons, along with the lifelong bond shared by the brotherhood of coaches.