After capturing three state championships in the past four years, coach Tom Pulford is leaving his post with the Palmer Ridge football program.

Pulford guided the Bears to a 62-39 record in nine seasons at the Monument program, capturing three consecutive 3A titles from 2017-19 and finishing as the runner-up this past fall after moving up to 4A. He's also served as an assistant and had been on staff since the program's inception.

A press release from the school said Pulford was making a change in order to prioritize his family and health but would remain involved with the program.

“After 16 years teaching and coaching in (Lewis-Palmer School District 38), nine of which I have been the head football coach at PRHS, I need to step back and do what is best for my personal health and for my family,” Pulford wrote in the release. “I look forward to continuing to support the program in any way I can; my role will just have to look different.”

Among the players to come from the Palmer Ridge program under Pulford were quarterbacks Isaiah Sanders (Air Force), Ty Evans (now at Texas State after transferring from North Carolina State) and Luke McAllister (committed to Colorado State). Navy linebacker Winn Howard and Air Force defensive lineman George Silvanic also came from the program. Receiver Kaden Dudley is headed to Boise State in 2021.

Tyler Calhoun, son of Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, played under Pulford and reacted to Friday’s news on social media by calling him the “best to do it” in the state

Pulford opened up to The Gazette’s Paul Klee in 2020 about his daily battle with Bipolar II disorder and the impact that COVID-19 lockdowns had on the condition.

Following a 42-6 loss to Loveland in the 4A championship game in early December, Pulford spoke reverentially about the program the Indians had built and insinuated he wanted Palmer Ridge to one day bear the same look.

But now, carrying forward with that task will fall on his successor – with a continued assist from Pulford.

“While I am sad to see Tom stepping down from this role, I am extremely happy for Tom and his family,” Palmer Ridge athletic director Lance McCorkle said in a statement. “The countless hours that he has put in over the years would take a toll on any coach. We are fortunate to have Tom remain as a teacher in the school and also remain as a member of the Palmer Ridge football staff. Coach Pulford has built a lasting foundation for our football program and will be an integral part of its future.”

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