Brad Pyatt is busy. He knows what it’s like to be going a mile a minute, so as an entrepreneur and launching a new business while out of state isn’t unusual.
But the former Arvada West star hasn’t been too busy to try and turn around his alma mater. In fact, the time is now for the Wildcats, who are off to a 6-2 start in Class 5A and need one more victory to have their most in a season since the past decade.
And it could have been even better.
“Yeah,” Pyatt said, “we’re 8 seconds from being 8-0. We lost two close ones.”
And two close ones with familiarity … the ’Cats dropped their opener 35-29 to Lakewood, headed by Jeff Braun, a former assistant for Arvada West when Pyatt was a player in the late 1990s, and two weeks ago fell 20-14 to Ralston Valley, the competing school in northwest Jefferson County.
“I’m just so proud of these kids,” Pyatt said, pointing to his juniors and seniors, many of whom saw playing time in their early days. Now in his fourth year heading the program, Pyatt said he also stays close to Dave Logan (his former A-West coach now at Cherry Creek) and Casey Coons (a popular and successful former A-West head coach now heading its offensive lines) who have taught him a few things, including the promotion of underclassmen.
“We’re starting to see the benefits of playing kids young and early,” he said.
Admittedly, said Pyatt, who played at Kentucky and Northern Colorado before a four-year stint in the NFL, mostly with Indianapolis, “we got our butts kicked a couple of years in a row,” pointing to a combined a 4-16 mark over his first two seasons, notably a 1-9 showing in 2015.
However, A-West was 6-4 a year ago and the playoffs are the goal this season.
“They’ve bought into what I’m selling,” Pyatt said. “What they took from those losses has made us better. When you play in those tough games, it gives us the know-how to help us win. You can’t step in and start winning. It takes some battles and something good will happen out of these losses. You have to learn how to win.”
The ‘Cats have a growing list of competitors making a difference. There’s junior running back-defensive back Tony Cass. Junior wide receiver Chris McEahern. Junior quarterback Johnny Krutsch. The offensive line averages about 280 pounds per player and includes Brady Legault. And on defense, there’s end John Boyer. Defensive tackle Anthony Gallardo. And Isaiah Ocana in the secondary.
To be honest, Pyatt said, the controversial waterfall outlay “kind of helped us to help stand our program back up.”
Indeed, being away form traditional Jeffco powers while rebuilding has aided the ’Cats, but no apologies are needed — they will be at struggling Castle View in Castle Rock on Friday and finish the regular season at home with Centennial’s Eaglecrest, the defending Mt. Wilson League champion bidding for its second consecutive undefeated season, on Nov. 3.
Pyatt being in command of A-West “is a long-term plan,” he said, and “it hasn’t been easy with the long nights, but it’s the flip side of when I was a player. I can look back and understand what my coaches went through. But it also gives me that rush when I was playing.”
Across Class 5A, Week 9 should be fine as evidenced by the matchups labelled below for your viewing pleasure:
Best bets
Chaparral (6-2) vs. Pomona (6-2), Thursday, 7 p.m., NAAC
Very interesting — Pomona is far and away the top scoring team (340 points) in 5A; meanwhile, Chaparral is tied with Eaglecrest for fewest points allowed (82). … It’s a Mt. Evans matchup. … In a 20-14 victory over Rock Canyon, a district rival, last week, the Wolverines had a very modest 174 yards of total offense, just 25 passing on two completions in 11 attempts. … QB Peyton Ross rushed 11 times for 88 yards. … Pomona won last year’s meeting 40-7. … In just 29 plays from scrimmage, Pomona rolled to 338 yards of offense in waxing Mountain Vista 49-14. … The Panthers had a 42-point first quarter and Washington State-pledge Max Borghi totaled five TDs with 161 yards rushing on just seven carries. Billy Pospisil added two catches for 85 yards and a TD.
Ralston Valley (5-3) vs. Eaglecrest (8-0), Thursday, 7 p.m., Legacy Stadium
The Mustangs have won five straight games after their 0-3 start, most recently a 42-6 blowout of Aurora’s Rangeview. … It’s a Mt. Wilson game. … Eaglecrest won last year’s matchup, 38-21, and has won eight consecutive league games. … The common theme here is points, and lots of them. Ralston Valley offense has generated 89 points over the past three games. And with at least 40 points in each of their past four games, the Raptors are averaging more than 38 points per outing. … Eaglecrest’s Kenny Wanting, Jalen Mergerson and Victor Garnes may be as talented and gifted as any trio on any team in Colorado. They also have combined for 34 TDs. … The Raptors have won 18 regular-season games in a row, the classification’s longest current streak.
Lakewood (6-2) at Fountain-Fort Carson (4-4), Friday, 7 p.m., Guy Barickman Stadium
The Tigers, after a 5-0 start, dropped a couple, but won on the road in Fort Collins over Poudre 31-21 last week. … It’s a Mt. Lincoln game. … Ezekiel Sundberg and Pierce Holley each have thrown for seven TDs for Lakewood. … Sundberg also leads the Tigers in rushing with 483 yards; Kegan Hufford is tops with six rushing TDs. … One more victory for the Tigers and it will be their most since going 12-2 in 2011 and making the big-school final. … The military-based Trojans have dropped their past two outings, including last week’s 19-7 setback on the road to Parker’s Legend. … Lakewood won last year’s game 35-10.
Highlands Ranch (6-2) vs. Legend (4-4), Friday, 7 p.m., EchoPark Automotive Stadium
The Falcons were drubbed 48-7 by nearby Valor Christian last week. … It’s a Mt. Lincoln game. … Highlands Ranch was hit for 470 yards of offense. … It’s also a Douglas County District-rival game. … Highlands Ranch won last year’s meeting 24-8. … The Titans needed every one of their 240 yards of offense last week to beat Fountain-Fort Carson. Caiden Meis rushed 24 times for 85 yards and scored his team’s only TD, which came in the third quarter. … QB Micah Butte was 11-of-19 for 114 yards and six of the completions went to Trustin Oliver for 64 yards.
Also keep an eye on …
Mountain Range (4-4) vs. Columbine (7-1), Thursday, 6 p.m., Jefferson County Stadium
Mustangs are into the meat of their Mt. Cameron schedule; the Rebels and longtime coach Andy Lowry can smell another league title and a victory would clinch an automatic playoff spot.
Arvada West (6-2) vs. Castle View (1-7), Friday, 7 p.m., Douglas County Stadium
Wildcats are finally giving Coach Pyatt a glimpse back to the ride he had as an A-West star; SaberCats have lost seven straight games and desperately seek a victory.`
Mullen (3-5) vs. ThunderRidge (3-5), d Friday, 7 p.m, Shea Stadium
Two proud programs that aren’t used to having losing records at this point in late October and are sharing the following quest — the race to get back to .500 by the end of the regular season is on.
Northglenn (5-3) vs. Fairview (7-1), Friday, 7 p.m., Recht Field
After a 5-1 start, the Norse have dropped two straight and been outscored by a combined 67-16; the Knights’ Tevye Schuettpelz-Rohl may have a difficult name to spell and pronounce, but he also can play, as evidenced by his tough 33-yard reception that set up his winning field goal on the final play to beat Mullen last week.
Poudre (5-3) vs. Valor Christian (8-0), Friday, 7 p.m., Valor Christian
Impalas have dropped three of their past four games after a 4-0 start and are facing the two-time defending state champions; over eight Mt. Lincoln games, the Eagles have allowed an average of seven points per game and only the 2016 Impalas, who put up 14 points a year ago, have been able to score more than a TD.
Arapahoe (2-6) vs. Grandview (6-2), Friday, 7 p.m., Legacy Stadium
Warriors have been trying hard to fight through a difficult season; Wolves and leading tackler Jordan Knapke have won eight consecutive Mt. Massive games, all by blowout, a common theme in the second season of the waterfall layout.
Overland (5-3) vs. Doherty (5-3), Saturday, 6 p.m., Garry Berry Stadium
Both are a game off the Mt. Massive pace set by Grandvew; Doherty fell to the Wolves 42-2 last week and the Trailblazers will get them in Week 10.