Theres more than a new coach and a new season for Bayfield High School football.
Theres also a brand new league.
The Wolverines, Class 2A in football, will be led this season by first-year head coach Gary Heide, who most recently was an assistant coach at West Grand High School in Kremmling.
The Wolverines also will step into the new Western League this season.
As a result of statewide restructuring among the Class 2A football schools, Bayfield will be part of the eight-team conference that includes one familiar Intermountain League rival Pagosa Springs.
The remaining six teams are from the central mountain region of Colorado Aspen, Basalt, Coal Ridge (New Castle/Silt), Grand Valley (Parachute), Gunnison and Olathe.
Before they get to league play, the Wolverines will host Kirtland Central at 7 p.m. today in an interstate opener at Wolverine Country Stadium.
I think everyone needs a Friday-night football game, Heide said. Its that time of year.
He said the Wolverines are eager to test themselves against another opponent.
Were excited. We went to Durango (last weekend) for a scrimmage. And we had some mental errors, Heide said.
He said the Wolverines have improved this week in practice.
I was impressed because we didnt put the ball on the ground, said Heide, who has coached in Colorado and Minnesota for nearly 20 years. He said the Wolverines will benefit from an experienced offensive line that returns four of five starters.
Thats huge. Thats one of our strengths, Heide said of the foursome of experienced offensive linemen: Austin McMenimen, Nate Goddard, Kevin Donahue and Jon Roberts. Sophomore Blaine Barnes will step into the center position this year.
Another sophomore, Matt Knickerbocker, will start at quarterback in Bayfields triple option. He was a starting wide receiver last year as a freshman.
Were still looking at spreading the field and getting to the second option, Heide said. But were working on it.
He said the Bayfield defense, led by first-year defensive coordinator Shawn Tucker, will bring an aggressive, attacking brand of football.
His defense will be very aggressive ... but its still a work in progress, Heide said.
Returning all-conference players TJ Pazell and Michael Hawkins will anchor that BHS defense.
Bayfield will have one more nonleague game Sept. 7 at Dolores before starting conference play Sept. 14 at Basalt.
The Wolverines will host Aspen, Coal Ridge and Gunnison, and theyll play conference road games at Basalt, Grand Valley, Olathe and Pagosa Springs.
Olathe, with 27 wins in its last 28 conference games, won state championships in 2008 and 2010.
The annual Pagosa Springs rivalry game against Bayfield on Oct. 26 will wrap up the regular season.
Three teams from the eight-team league will qualify for the Class 2A stage playoffs. Three additional Class 2A teams will enter the playoffs as wild-card teams based on power points.
Heide takes over for Marshall Hahn, the former BHS head coach who moved to Rogers High School in northwest Arkansas over the summer. Hahn and the Wolverines went 12-1 last year, losing their only game in the state championship matchup.
Heide is a former head coach at Hayfield High School in Minnesota. He also coached at Soroco High School in Oak Creek near Steamboat Springs.