A few short years ago, a 43-0 score for a Coronado football game wouldn't have been too surprising. The program struggled through several long seasons and often was on the wrong end of a lopsided score.
Meet the 2013 Cougars. Behind quarterback Joah Smith's four-touchdown performance, Coronado rolled Pueblo County 43-0 to open its season with a bang.
Smith threw for 153 yards and three scores, and cashed in a three-yard touchdown run. If the week-zero win was any indication, Coronado's offense will be explosive this season.
"I think we're looking to throw it more this year, and we did a bunch of 7-on-7 passing drills this offseason and it helped," said Smith, a senior and second-year starter. "The expectations are very high, and they've been high all summer. The whole team has been working hard."
Smith racked up 1,304 total yards and 11 touchdowns in 2012 in helping to lead Coronado to a 5-5 record, nearly missing a share of the 3A South Central title.
His coach, Bob Lizarraga, said that Smith had earned the right to be a captain on this year's squad, both on and off the field.
"Joah has made significant strides of improvement over the past year, and having a full season of game experience last year should display itself throughout this season," Lizarraga said. "Joah and his twin brother, Sam, have great work ethics throughout the entire year, whether it be in the weight room or working hard on all of the fundamentals."
Joah threw two touchdowns to Sam last season and connected with his twin for one of his scores in the season opener. But his sibling isn't the only weapon Smith has at his fingertips.
Senior Antwan Outlaw and Junior York (a junior) also provide threats. The pair combined for 141 yards and two touchdowns on just four catches against Pueblo County.
"He's an athlete, he has hands and speed, and he's a freak," Smith said of Outlaw, who finished with 90 yards, a receiving score and an 89-yard punt return for a touchdown.
Lizarraga said his quarterback has earned everything he's accomplished. Lizarraga expects even more from the senior.
"Through all the hard work and time commitment Joah invests in the offseason, he deserved a great start to the season," the coach said. "It developed the next level of trust he needs from his teammates for us to compete at our best."
Coronado faces a strong test in its second game - a trip to TCA, which beat the Cougars 42-7 last season.
"I think it'll be an important game for us, and a game to really show how good we are and how far we think we're going to go," Smith said.