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Jeff Priestley was at Palmer doing some house cleaning in April, dotting his I's and crossing his T's, the kind of minutiae that comes with taking over a football program.

Eventually he strolled down to Wendy's to grab a bite when something caught his eye. He walked over to the Palmer practice field and watched several kids playing football.

Closer investigation led him to realize they were Palmer students. And thus, Priestley's players.

Priestley was hired in January to take over a struggling Palmer football team that has won four games over the past three seasons. Those struggles haven't dampened his players' hopes.

"The thing I saw right off the bat, it's a bunch of kids that are really hungry; they want to play and want to win real bad," Priestley said Wednesday. "There is a hunger there. These kids really stepped up and did everything we asked them to do and they loved it."

Palmer is 4-26 over the past three seasons. The Terrors, a Class 5A school, will play a mostly 4A schedule this season, including partaking in the 4A Southern League.

It won't be the first rebuilding project for Priestley. In the span of three seasons he improved 2A Fort Lupton from a one-win team to a playoff squad. The Blue Devils went 5-5 last season and qualified for their first playoff berth in eight years.

Taking over Palmer will have a similar feel for the Cheyenne Mountain alumnus.

"It's not a whole lot different than a lot of things I've done in the past," Priestley said. "I can't say enough about how exciting it is. The community really ignites and catches fire when you start seeing success."

Priestley kept several Palmer assistant coaches from last season, plus added a few who had been with the program in the past. He's impressed with the football knowledge of his new coaching staff.

"I feel real lucky and fortunate to have been able to hire a bunch of coaches with great football backgrounds," Priestley said. "That's the first step, really, surround yourself with great coaches.

"They know the situation and they've been around this thing and have been a tremendous help."

The Terrors have been working with their coach throughout the summer, in 7-on-7 camps and through summer practices. He's liked what he's seen.

"I've been very pleased and impressed with the kids we have, and we certainly have some kids who can play football," Priestley said. "They tell me there are more in the halls and we just have to go meet them and find them."

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