AURORA | With the tragic death of head coach T.C. Newland late last year still lingering, the Hinkley football program needed some stability going forward.
The Thunderbirds have just that as Dennis York, a holdover from Newland’s staff from the past two seasons, has been hired to lead the program going into the 2022 season.
The 59-year-old York has more than three decades of coaching experience — including stints locally as an assistant at Gateway, Rangeview and Smoky Hill — and gets to step in the leadership role for a Hinkley program that is in need of the known after Newland passed away in December of 2021 (story here).
“It’s tough and to be honest, we need to have a familiar face in there,” York told the Sentinel. “TC was my best friend and I want to continue the legacy that he started. We’re going to do things a little bit differently, but keep on the path. We had a four-year plan and we were in Year 2, so we’re going to continue with that.”
York said he made himself available daily after Newland’s death for players to talk and he played a supporting role to allow them to “find themselves again.”
Hinkley athletic director Rodney Padilla called York a good fit for the job, especially at this time.
York said he will attempt to keep some of the other members of the coaching staff from last year, but will lose offensive coordinator Wondame Davis Sr., whose son Wondame Davis Jr. played quarterback for the Thunderbirds last season.
Davis Jr. has since transferred to Overland.
Low numbers and inexperience were big obstacles for Hinkley over the last two seasons — the spring of 2020 and fall of 2021 — which resulted in an 0-15 mark over that span.
The Thunderbirds went 7-3 in the 2019 season under Michael Farda, who moved back to his native Texas after the campaign. Farda’s departure caused some players to not come out the next season and the difficulties presented by COVID-19 had a major impact on progress.
The young players that came out and played through the difficult situations have matured and grown tougher — boosting York’s hope of a more physical brand of football in the new season — while getting the number of players Farda had out in his time is just as important.
“I think what has improved is their football IQ,” York said. “We played a lot of freshmen and sophomores and a lot of kids that had never played before. Now, we have (chalk)board meetings to go over fundamental stuff and I test them on it. Their football IQ is a lot better. The key thing for us is to get kids on the field, because has been a huge problem.
“With the demographic we have, we need to work even harder to get players on the field.”
York said he hopes for some success against a schedule that is already set with games against George Washington, Aurora Central, Adams City, Centaurus, Liberty, Thornton, Widefield, Gateway, Vista PEAK and Palmer upcoming in the fall.
York is the fourth new head football coach hired so far among Aurora programs ahead of the fall season, joining Chris Dixon at Rangeview (story), Justin Jajczyk at Cherokee Trail (story) and Mike Schmitt (story) at Eaglecrest. Smoky Hill is still in the process of hiring a new head coach to replace Tom Thenell, who departed for a college job at Colorado Mesa University (story).
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports