AURORA | Since 2003, the Grandview football team has been a thorn in the side of Tom Doherty.
No matter where he went in the Centennial League as a head coach at Eaglecrest or as an defensive coordinator at Smoky Hill, Mullen and most recently Cherry Creek, the Wolves were always the program that caused Doherty angst on game week.
So it was just a bit strange for Doherty when Grandview athletic director Wes Smock introduced him as Grandview’s new head football coach Tuesday in front of a gathering of players in the school’s cafeteria.
“I didn’t expect to be the head coach at Grandview High School, but here I am,” Doherty told the Sentinel. “It’s exciting, but definitely surreal to be honest with you. …I’ve been going against them since 2003, so I know them well. Sometimes it was good, sometimes it wasn’t, but they always competed at a high level. That’s what I appreciate about Grandview.”
Doherty is just the third coach in Grandview history and there are huge shoes to fill, especially in the wake of the departure of John Schultz, who spent 17 seasons on the sidelines and only had a losing record in this past season, which was limited to just seven games due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Schultz — who succeeded original coach Rocky Whitworth — stepped down earlier this month, telling the Sentinel he took the opportunity provided by the pandemic to retire from teaching and coaching early as many in the Cherry Creek School District have or are considering, with 150 wins and the program’s only state championship (2007’s Class 5A crown) to his credit.
Doherty certainly knows plenty about winning and championships coming off a nine-year stint as the defensive coordinator for Colorado coaching legend Dave Logan at Cherry Creek. He picked up a third state championship victory in the fall when the Bruins — who had a loaded roster with double-digit Division I-caliber players — topped Valor Christian.
Cherry Creek allowed just 41 points in nine games, an average of 4.5 per contest.
“We were 90-22, we went to four state championships and won three of them and I had the honor and privilege of calling the defensive plays for those games,” said Doherty, who wore one of his championship rings as he addressed his new Grandview players.
“Those are great memories and I think they are going to serve me well going forward,” he added. “It was a special time in my life for sure.”
Doherty is the second hire in the Centennial League from the Logan coaching tree in the past two years, following Kyle Reese, who got the job at Overland prior to last season. The Trailblazers have since departed the league due to realignment, however.
Smock said there was a very “competitive pool” of applicants for the job, but that Doherty “fits best what Grandview needs at this particular time.”
“Change is always scary, but it can turn out to be good,” he added. “We are excited for a new opportunity moving forward. The work and effort and time that John put into this school for years will never be forgotten, but there comes a time where everybody has to move on.
“Coach Doherty knows who we are and our tradition, but he brings a fresh spin on it.”
Doherty hadn’t yet finalized his coaching staff, but said he is likely to bring back a number of assistants that have helped contribute to Grandview’s success should they be interested.
He also took time to watch game film again of the game between Cherry Creek and Grandview and made sure to point out the jersey numbers of the Wolves’ who made life difficult on the Bruins — including senior-to-be running back Moosah Alsaffar, a second team All-Centennial League performer — even though Cherry Creek won 37-0.
Senior-to-be defensive back Kahden Rullo, a second team all-league selection along with Malique Singleton, also got a nod among others from Doherty.
Grandview and Cherry Creek will meet again in the fall in Week 7, but Doherty has a lot to go through between now and then to get ready for a quality non-league schedule that includes Pomona and Ralston Valley before Centennial League play.
Doherty is pleased to take over a program he has always respected and he plans to use lessons learned in his other head coaching stint — a 26-36 in six seasons at Eaglecrest — to his advantage in his new home.
“I already had a job that I loved, but this is an opportunity I just couldn’t pass up,” Doherty said. “Making the decision to apply wasn’t that hard when I knew it was Grandview.”
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports