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Liberty joins Air Academy in schools with football coach openings
Liberty and Air Academy sit not quite nine miles apart in Academy School District 20. With somewhat comparable enrollments, the Lancers (1,560 students) and Kadets (1,301) compete frequently in nonleague contests in most sports but share an affiliation in football, both among 4A Pikes Peak League combatants.
The next time the teams meet on the gridiron, both will do so with new coaches.
On Jan. 11, Jaron Cohen announced he was leaving Liberty after five years to take over the coaching reins at Hinkley in Aurora. That comes a few months after Air Academy’s Mike Hillstrom announced he was retiring from coaching following eight seasons on the sidelines. He remains a teacher at the school.
Liberty athletic director and assistant principal Mike Sibley plans on starting a national search to replace Cohen in the next week. Meanwhile, Diane Shuck, the Kadets athletic director and assistant principal, hopes to have a coach in place by the end of the month or early February.
“We’re looking for the best candidates to grow the program,” Sibley said. “We’re working with our administrative team on a time line, and we’re looking at interviewing candidates in February. There’s been quite a bit of interest already.”
Cohen’s team went 4-6 last season and 24-27 overall, as he inherited a team in 2008 that had lost its previous 15 games. By 2009, the Lancers were conference champions.
Hillstrom’s squad went 2-8 to finish his eight-year run at Air Academy. In 2007, Air Academy went 10-2 and won six of 10 in 2008. The team has fallen on hard times since, winning just seven games in the past four seasons.