Dean Huffman’s teams at Vista Ridge never seemed lacking in chemistry, so it’s only fitting that science played a key role in his return to area football.
Sierra athletic director Mike Geniesse officially announced Huffman’s hiring with the Stallions on Wednesday, confirming a rumor that had been circulating for more than a week.
No one was more relieved to hear the news than Huffman himself.
“The rumor is true,” Huffman said. “Boy am I happy to be back in the show.”
Geniesse said it was what Huffman brings as an upper-level biology and chemistry teacher that tipped the scales in his favor.
Of course, the football side of things didn’t hurt.
Huffman built the program at Vista Ridge from scratch, starting at Skyview Middle School. He then followed that first group into the high school when it first opened and, in 2010, led the Wolves to the 3A semifinals in their first year with a senior class.
Less than a year later on Aug. 12, Huffman was removed as football coach days before the start of practice. The Vista Ridge administration cited philosophical differences and a desire to take the program in a different direction.
The Wolves had taken on Huffman’s excitable, sometimes flamboyant, always tell-it-like-he-sees-it personality and the news of his abrupt removal hit many surrounding the team hard. An online petition to reinstate Huffman drew 475 signatures. Signs lamenting his removal continued to appear at games throughout the season.
The Wolves replaced Huffman with defensive coordinator Les Johnson on an interim basis and posted a 9-2 record that included a first-round playoff loss to Lewis-Palmer. Johnson was hired as the permanent replacement in January.
Huffman, who spent time as an assistant at Palmer during the 2011 season, now has his own permanent spot.
Sierra won’t require the same from-scratch construction project as Vista Ridge, but there’s some rebuilding that needs to be done. The Stallions went through two coaches in an 0-10 season in the first year after longtime coach Joe Roskam took the same position closer to home in Woodland Park.
Roskam’s best years with the Stallions came in 2007 and ’08, when the teams were a combined 16-6. His overall record in seven years was 37-35.
As evidenced by Sierra’s run last week to the boys’ basketball state championship game – it fell one point short of a third 4A title in four years – the school has elite talent. Now it’s a matter of carrying that over into a different sport.
“That’s what we’re hoping for,” said Geniesse, who came to Sierra in October. “When you look back at where this program was in the late 1990s and early 2000s, there were some really good teams. We’re hoping to recapture that.”