Five games into the regular season, the Durango High School boys soccer team was winless and goalless.
Garhett Stafford, fittingly, scored the season's first goal Sept. 19 - another loss, however, and the first of seven
consecutive defeats to start the season.
Stafford's goal opened the flood gates, though.
Durango started scoring goals and started winning games, enough so that the Demons rallied for a 7-8-1 overall
season, second in the Southwestern League and a 20th ranking in the Colorado High School Activities Association Boys
Soccer State Championships.
For their efforts, the Durango Demons had three players named to the All-SWL team, and coach Scott Emrich was named
Coach of the Year.
Stafford, who finished the season with one goal and one assist, was named Player of the Year and joined teammate
Taylor Graham on the first team.
Stafford was named honorable mention All-State, as well.
Tim Hubertus was named to the second team.
"Two sophomores and one junior," Emrich was quick to point out.
Stafford, who played junior varsity last season, is a junior, while Graham and Hubertus are sophomores.
"Garhett is a very hard worker," Emrich said. "He came in after this offseason working very hard this summer, and you
could tell. He prepared himself really well for this season."
Durango's season turned around, Emrich said, when he settled on the back four of his 4-4-2 system. Joe Casey and
Dylan Schwantes played fullback, and Stafford and Graham manned the middle in front of Demons' goalkeeper John
"Once we finally decided on that back four ... it all worked out," said Emrich, whose side started the season 0-7
then finished the regular season 7-1. "We only allowed four goals and scored 21 in that stretch.
"Garhett and Taylor really anchored the middle of our defense. They're good ball-handlers. They're good distributors.
They really do a lot of good things."
For Emrich, the coach-of-the-year honor was a pleasant surprise after a tumultuous start.
"To start 0-7 is really hard; I've never been through that before," he said. "But the boys stayed together. They
didn't get down on each other. They remained confident, and they played confidently on the field. I think that speaks
volumes of their character. They really easily could have given up, but they always kept their heads up.
"We went unbeaten in our last eight games. That's a really good comeback. I was really proud of 'em at the end of
Emrich has reached the postseason in all 11 of his head-coaching campaigns. He attributed this year's postseason
award to the program, the players and his coaching staff: Anthony Bonanno, Benj Fredrick and Dawson Emrich.
"For my award, that speaks very much of our program, our coaching staff and these boys," he said.
"This was a really rewarding season," Emrich said.