(Gabe Christus/Denver Broncos)
Brandon Boles / For CHSAANow.com
5A finalists Eagles welcome new coach Bret McGatlin
Change is in the air for one of Colorado’s top high school football teams this fall.
Valor Christian has been a state title contender in Class 5A over the years, but the team is hungry to ride out the hump and get back to the top after falling in the state title game over the past two recent seasons.
The biggest change for Valor Christian comes with Bret McGatlin, the new man to take over as the program’s head coach. He joined the Eagles this spring after guiding Chatfield to the Class 4A state title last year.
“It was hard to leave a place you call home, but these guys and the team have been good to me,” McGatlin said at the Broncos/CHSAA Fall Sports High School media day. “I feel like over the past few months this summer we have bonded and become close. It feels like home already.”
A new coach will bring changes to the program, and McGatlin comes at an opportune time as his team will replace a large senior class, so the team expects to see many players move up to higher roles and other newcomers to the field this fall.
One of the stars expected to lead the offense is a household name from last year’s team. Gabe Sawchuk, a running back who saw time in the backfield with his brother, Gavin Sawchuk, is expected to be the primary offensive end after rushing for 797 yards as a sophomore. While Gavin Sawchuk has enjoyed great success and was named 2021 Class 5A Player of the Year, Gabe knows he can be successful on the program in a high role.
“I’m not too worried about it,” Sawchuk said. “All great players come with a great team. One man can’t do everything. Gavin was very successful and is doing very well in Oklahoma, but he had a great team behind him, and I have a great team behind him. me.
The Eagles will look to replace their quarterback and find young receivers with Sawchuk. The line of scrimmage will be anchored by Brody Bliek, a two-way player with great size and strength, which McGatlin says will be a luxury for him at Valor Christian.
Even with the coaching change and the demise of a great senior class, the Eagles feel they have great chemistry and are ready to start the season well.
“One of the biggest differentiators I feel at Valor is that we have one of the closest fraternities to our football team,” said Roman Bradley. “That’s one of the things the coach (McGatlin) noticed about us, how tight our players were. I think that really helps us on the pitch too.
The McGatlin era at Valor Christian begins August 26 with a home game against Regis Jesuit.