Even though Don Bryant's tenure at Palmer Ridge has lasted only two seasons, his nine-season involvement with Monument's lacrosse youth program speaks volumes to the Bears' recent success.

"We've been trying to develop a youth program if the high school team was going to reach an elite level," said Bryant, The Gazette's Girls' Lacrosse Coach of the Year. "Now, I see how far they've come, looking back to when they were fourth-graders with lacrosse sticks."

Last season, those former middle school players helped Palmer Ridge to a 13-2 record in the regular season, after going 12-4 during the 2013 campaign.

And even though the Bears fell to Denver East in the second round of the playoffs, Bryant can see that foundation being built for bigger steps in the short-term future.

"That was a tough playoff game," Bryant said. "With a lot of work, we can turn that corner, and it could be as soon as next year. We have a strong eighth-grade class and a rising sophomore class. With the youth program, we'll develop players who will improve and make an impact, and help us get to that level."