GOLDEN — In near triple-digit heat Wednesday afternoon at Marv Kay Stadium, new Colorado School of Mines football head coach Brandon Moore started answering a question on the continuity of the coaching staff from 2021 to this fall before he looked to the field and had to pause.
He paced over to the 30-yard line, blew his whistle and barked “walk,” and the 12th-ranked team in Division II began its walk-through ahead of its home opener against No. 6 Angelo State set for noon Saturday at Marv Kay Stadium.
Moore, named head coach in January after Greg Brandon retired, is serious about the program’s sky-high expectations and is equally as invested in the process through a hands-on approach with his players.
“We do a good job of winning here and that culture is ingrained in what the university is about and just continuing to carry that along with us,” Moore told The Post. “… As long as we continue to grow the bond, stay tight and keep it about us, with the camaraderie that these kids have for each other, I think we’re going to have a lot of success.”
Previously Mines’ defensive coordinator, Moore takes over a program that steadily rose during the final few years of the Brandon era, capped by last season’s run to the NCAA Division II Final Four.
For a lot of new head coaches, when there is a change at the top, it brings change across the board. It’s different at Mines. Every other coach on last year’s staff stayed put. Moore said it’s a testament to what makes the program special.
“We talk so much about being a family,” Moore said after he kicked off the walk-through. “I think one of the most telling things is that the entire staff stayed. … It’s hard to leave your family to venture off, especially when you believe in what’s going on and believe in the direction of our program.”
With a number of returners dotting the roster, the Orediggers (0-1) are expecting to compete for another RMAC title.
Running back Michael Zeman, a 2021 All-American, leads a strong core of seniors on the offensive side that also includes quarterback John Matocha, center Matt Armendariz and receiver Josh Johnston. And a defense that helped record a program-best plus-18 turnover differential last season brings back most of its top playmakers. Among them: senior cornerback Mason Pierce, senior safety Jaden Williams and sophomore linebacker Jaden Healy.
For Matocha, who had 350 yards on 26-of-36 passing in last week’s 25-22 loss at No. 4 Grand Valley State, seeing all of the weapons he has at his disposal only makes him more excited to get started in Saturday’s home opener.
“We’ve got so many dudes and there’s a star player at every position, the playbook and personnel is so wide open because we’ve built so much trust up,” he said. “We’ve got so many returners and leaders, and everybody’s a playmaker. I can’t wait to get it into their hands.”
While the Orediggers have many familiar faces from last year’s semifinal run, Moore pointed out more than a few players who were unsung. Redshirt senior nose guard Kyle Bahnsen, a University High School product out of Greeley, is one to watch.
“Kyle’s one of my favorite players to keep an eye on because it’s never good enough for him,” Moore said. “He’s going to out-work everybody here, but he’s a nose guard so he’ll never get the credit for it. But if he doesn’t do his job we’ll be in a world of hurt.”
With its strong mix across the board, Mines could prove to be formidable. For Moore, the expectations match the moment.
Now, it’s time to see if the Orediggers can deliver.
“We have to live where our feet are,” Moore said. “… With the expectations from last year which extended to this year, one of the things I’ve learned is to keep rolling, ignore the things I can’t control and focus on the things that are important, which is our football team and our players.”
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