AURORA | With time running out quickly before the 2017 prep football season, Brandon Alconcel became the answer to Rangeview’s Hail Mary.
Just a few weeks ago, former head coach Justin Hoffman had to resign to make a necessary move to South Carolina at the end of the school year, so the Raiders found themselves in need of a new head coach pretty late in the game.
Enter Alconcel, a former assistant at nearby Overland who emerged from a pool of 25-plus applicants in a short window as somebody Rangeview athletic director Vic Strouse believes gives the program a chance to build on the school’s existing traditions upheld by Hoffman and his predecessor, Dave Gonzales.
“We’re pretty excited about Brandon, especially considering the timing and what we had to deal with,” Strouse told the Sentinel.
“Clearly there was a passion there with Brandon that resonated with the interview committee. The key for us is his desire to help kids and to help them develop into young men. He seems to be in the same mold as Justin and Gonz with that quality we see from all the coaches in our building, that it’s about the kids and we care about them as people, not just as athletes.”
Alconcel, 33-year-old California native, will be a head coach for the first time, but he’s been around the game of football for a very long time.
He played tight end and offensive line at Colorado State in the early 2000s under venerable Rams coach Sonny Lubick, then had stints as an assistant at both Adams State University and the University of Northern Colorado. For the past five years, Alconcel served as offensive coordinator at Overland under former coach Seth Replogle.
Strouse believes the adjustment can be smooth for Alconcel for a number of reasons, beginning with the similarities between the schools and football programs of Overland and Rangeview. The teams have developed a bit of a rivalry over the last few years and will square off again in the upcoming season.
“Brandon has a lot of good experience and knowledge about the area,” Strouse said. “He recruited our kids when he was coaching in college and he knows the type of athletes we have around here. He comes over from a school with a similar demographic, so I think that gives him an edge.”
Having Hoffman around as a resource should also help the transition.
Alconcel comes on to follow Hoffman, who finished 3-7 last season and 1-4 in the Raiders’ first season in the newly-constituted Mount Wilson League, which also includes Eaglecrest. Rangeview will remain in the conference for the upcoming season before expected realignment based on RPI.
Last season’s changes also shrunk the Class 5A playoff field from 32 teams to 16, so the Raiders missed the postseason for the first time since the 2005 season.
Rangeview expects to return a lot of skill position players for next season, namely the dynamic offensive duo of seniors-to-be Jaelin Odegard at quarterback and wide receiver Josh Hollins. Odegard threw for 2,421 yards and 18 touchdowns last season, including nine to Hollins, who had 920 yards receiving in 10 games.
Alconcel’s Overland team also missed out on the postseason last year in the final season under Replogle, who stepped down due to health reasons. Former Denver Bronco Steve Sewell was hired to fill the Trailblazers’ vacancy, the first in the Aurora ranks following the 2016 season.
Former ThunderRidge coach Joe Johnson was hired at Cherokee Trail as well.
Strouse said Alconcel is ready to pick up the traditions established at Rangeview such as Hog Wars over the summer. Alconcel has come to the annual strength and teamwork competition for linemen with Overland in recent years.
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel