There was a point before opening night for the Englewood High School Pirates football team that senior middle linebacker Yakez Daughtry knew the team was heading in the right direction. Daughtry …
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There was a point before opening night for the Englewood High School Pirates football team that senior middle linebacker Yakez Daughtry knew the team was heading in the right direction.
Daughtry watched as team attendance spiked in summer scrimmages in preparation for the 2019 season. He credits it to the hire of the team's head coach, Mike Campbell, who brought 15 years of experience as a head coach at Arapahoe High School to Englewood High School in 2018, and other coaches on the team.
“The atmosphere with Englewood changed in terms of how (we) win and operate as a real football team together. You can tell people are taking Englewood more seriously,” said Daughtry.
Since Campbell took control of Englewood High School football, winning has become a tradition at the school. Over the past two seasons, the Pirates have had a combined 14-5 record, including a 2019 league championship and a playoff appearance where the team lost to Rifle High School. Despite that loss — in a game where the Pirates were heavy underdogs — members of the team say more winning seasons are on the horizon.
Josiah Hazard, a tight end and defensive end for the Pirates, says the culture around the team changed when Campbell took the helm. He says that there is a feeling of camaraderie now among the players.
“Before, I feel like the team didn't know how to be winners, and I feel like that changed just with the whole foundation with the football team the last few years. We've had winning seasons back to back. Making the playoffs was a tremendous change of pace for the program,” said Hazard.
Part of the team's motivation this season centered around a 56-40 loss that took place last season to Denver North High School. Campbell said Denver North High School was more committed to its offseason program than Englewood High School. This season, with more players involved with the Pirates' offseason program, Englewood High School defeated Denver North High School 28-7.
“You can't win your league every year. I would love to win every year, but I just want us to be a competitive team that has a chance to win, and the opponent on the sideline knows it and believes it,” said Campbell, who earned his 100th victory this past season in a win over Arvada High School. “You become that kind of program, and sooner or later, the stars align, you get a bracket you like, and you get a chance to make a run.”
Englewood senior quarterback Mason Robertson, who threw for 25 touchdowns this season, said it was fun to play with guys he grew up with one last time this year. Robertson has been looked at by multiple schools, including the University of Pennsylvania.
“I think (the 2019 season) was another step for the future in the program with this coaching staff, the younger kids and the talent that comes along with Englewood. I think the younger generation is filled with talent,” said Robertson. “Probably even better than us, and it'll be exciting to see what they do with (their talent). Once you're a Pirate, you're always a Pirate.”
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