WOODLAND PARK - Woodland Park High School football coach Joe Roskam made a statement - and a vow - to his team following a season finale 49-7 loss to Lewis-Palmer on Nov. 2.
“I’m proud to have coached you; I love you guys,” Roskam said as players gathered near the south end zone. “Even though this season wasn’t what we wanted, you made it special and are helping to build it.
“But I’m never going to have this season again.”
Roskam was speaking specifically of the team’s four losses that ended with a running clock - including the one against Lewis-Palmer. Woodland Park’s three other losses were by an average of 28 points. All together, the Panthers were outscored 396 to 185.
“We’re going to put in the work and evaluate,” Roskam said. “We’re going to have an offseason and we’re going to come out and make sure we’re competitive year in and year out.
“We want it to where whenever someone comes up on the hill they find out it’s a tough place to play and they don’t get out of here with a running clock or whatever the heck is going on here. This is going to be one of the programs where people come up and ask `How do you do it.’ We’re going to be that model.
“I didn’t come anywhere to be mediocre and I didn’t come anywhere to lose. We’re going to build the program and we’re going to win.”
The Lewis-Palmer game also marked Senior Night. The seven Panthers seniors were joined on the field at halftime by family members. The group included Jacob Censner, Joe Callahan, Caelan Garner, Adam Primrose, Nation Jones, Kramer Moore, Riley Youngman, Zach Menz and Alex Anthony.
“It was emotional,” Callahan said. “There were a lot of things to overcome this year. Unfortunately we weren’t able to do that. There are a lot of factors. We’re just hoping for success (for this program) for future years.”
Callahan and Censner had their seasons shortened with broken legs, suffered in Week 5 during a 28-0 loss to Pueblo Central. The two returned to play the final two games of the season, but never regained their early consistency.
Censner threw for just 616 yards and five touchdowns this season in seven games. That hardly came close to his record-setting junior campaign when he threw for over 2,000 yards and 22 touchdowns.
“This was a trough season,” Censner said. “We gave all we got. It wasn’t good enough.”
Roskam praised his quarterback and the rest of the seniors.
“Jake is one of the best football players I’ve coached,” he said. “He’s the reason this thing is going to turn around.
“Caelan and those other guys who led us also paved the way. They didn’t see it this year, but the dividends will pay in the years to come because of their dedication.”
There were a number of bright spots. Freshman Matt Cox filled in nicely for Censner at quarterback, throwing four touchdowns and rushing for two more in a victory over Mitchell. He also led the team in rushing on the season with more than 500 yards.
Junior tailback/linebacker Weston Shutts had nearly 300 yards rushing and a team-leading five touchdowns before his season was cut short with a knee injury. Sophomore running back Dylan Schaller-Ward rushed for about 150 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a reserve role.
Junior receiver Jonathon Hinton caught 13 passes for 300 yards and three touchdowns.
“Would it have been different if we didn’t have all those injuries?” Roskam, said. “I don’t know. We were so inconsistent early. We just played a bunch of inexperienced players. We knew we were going to have a tough time. Inexperience kills you.”