This Friday, Aug. 17, the Colorado High School Activities Association will join with the National Football League's Denver Broncos to host its first-ever High School Football Media Day at UCHealth Training Center's Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse.
That'll be almost a week after Gary Heide ended the 2018 CHSAA football season's first full week unwinding - as much as a head coach can, that is - last Saturday night with Minnesota-at-Denver preseason action, reminding him of where he's been and where he's at.
"Of course, I'm from Minnesota, a Minnesota fan," laughed Heide, his Vikings 42-28 victors in large part due to the efforts of two former Denver quarterbacks, "and like to see the new faces and see what's going to happen. They've got a solid team, and I think Denver's going to improve - it's going to be a good year!"
"It was fun to watch, kind of initiate.the 'professional' season going on here."
And unlike either NFL squad, quarterback hasn't been a concern for his Bayfield High School Wolverines, set to defend their 2017 Class 2A State Championship with signal-caller Hayden Farmer one of a reported 18 seniors on Heide's team.
"My impression is that we're a very mature team, you know?" he said. "Eighteen seniors, many of whom have been playing since their YAFL years. They're all excited. We had such phenomenal talent last year in that senior class, and for some now, this is their chance! They didn't get to play a whole lot or not as much as they wanted to, but this is their chance."
"There's Farmer, there's Prior (Keyon), and Hawkins (David), of course, all phenomenal athletes, and we knew those guys are all primed, ready to go. But I was really pleased with all the other fellows and the coming-together of the team; we're hoping to get in there and accomplish some things."
Heide knows BHS is once again Public Enemy No. 1 to a classification with them in their long-range sights.
"There's some teams on the other side of the classification that we witnessed firsthand," he said, alluding to the Wolverines' summer workload, "that have really improved, one being Faith Christian. And Alamosa's there with 50 kids, so I think 2A as a whole is going to be real strong this year."
Still, even with reloading needed at certain positions, particularly offensive line, wide receiver, and defensive back, Heide and his staff have already seen great promise from returning players such as Ethan Morris on the line, Cameron Liddell, Nate Howell and Eli Monyek at receiver, plus "new faces that are going to help us" including James Mottin and Briant Cuellar.
"We had some good 7-on-7 with some of the local teams, and that was a lot of fun, kind of gets us moving in the right direction," he said. "Then we had our own camp, onto CSUP (for the CSU-Pueblo Team Camp), and I was really pleasantly surprised! I thought we went over our expectations, at least from a coaching standpoint."
"It kind of turned out the same way," he added, comparing Summer 2018 to Summer of 2017, which helped ready his crew for what ended up being a bone-crunching, record-smashing 13-0 campaign.
"I've been coach of three 1-and-8 teams, so I really appreciate when I have a lot of talent and I'm able to put together a great coaching staff, which I haven't always had in past years...before I came to Bayfield. I appreciate the fact that this team is going to be such a good team; I'm excited about this year."
TENANT SOUGHT: Asked whether the open home date in the Wolverines' schedule, created by Gunnison's decision to not play varsity football this fall, had been filled, Heide said it had not been as of yet.
"We did call the non-league teams that Gunnison was going to play, but we didn't get any response. Tried a couple New Mexico teams, but at this time of year.. People aren't looking for a game now; they've got their schedules set," he said.
"Right now it's fine.. On the bright side, it's more rest for our kids-three years ago we were 12-and-0 (including a second, unplanned "bye" week), so we know that's not going to hurt us-but we'll keep looking. Something might pop up! We're pretty adamant about getting that home game."
HONEY, WHERE'S THE KIDS: Addressing another aspect of last year's team, Heide reflected proudly about having coached twin sons Carl and Dawson through their high school days, and admitted it will be unusual not seeing them on the BHS sidelines when kickoff arrives.
"Before my kids were playing, I was changing diapers on the sideline," he quipped. "They were just little tots when I started up at Soroco - my first head coaching job - and they were riding their bicycles around, crashing down the hills. All the boys remember that."
"I kind of lived in the moment," he continued, alluding to BHS' 2017-18 year in which his boys suited up for not only a State-winning football team, but also 3A champion basketball and boys' track-and-field squads. "And that's a special thing for any father, to have those youngsters follow me through my career."
"But I take one thing at a time, and all I know is that I'm really excited for this year."