“This year, every kid in our football program, from K-12, gets a T-shirt that says ‘Proud member of Calhan football family,'" coach Luke Billington said.

Calhan football off to special start

Homecoming festivities around the Pikes Peak region won’t roll around for several more weeks at the earliest.

Calhan got a head start Friday.

There were no kings and queens announced during an elaborate halftime show. It was just a football game.

That’s what made it such a big deal.

Even though the Bulldogs lost a hard-fought 46-42 game to Byers, it was a win in some regards as it marked the program’s first home varsity contest since the end of the 2015 season.

In the summer of 2016, Calhan put its program on hiatus, citing numbers and the ability to field a competitive 11-man team.

“It’s pretty special to be back,” coach Luke Billington said. “It’s really special for whole town. We had a pretty good crowd. It’s been kind of a roller coaster, but it’s been really cool to be part of something coming back.”

Calhan, which has the enrollment to support a 1A program, petitioned the Colorado High School Activities Association to play down to 8-man, a request that was accepted.

Billington, the program’s former defensive coordinator, was hired a year ago to start the new era as the Bulldogs played a junior varsity schedule.

Now, student-athletes who had played with nearby Peyton in the past are donning the red and blue of their hometown school.

“We don’t consider ourselves as a football team. We consider ourselves as a family,” Billington said. “This year, every kid in our football program, from K-12, gets a T-shirt that says ‘Proud member of Calhan football family.’ Getting permission to play 8-man is big for us. We can protect the future and can play junior varsity. We never would have had that in 11-man.”

Calhan, which lost its opener Aug. 31 at West Grand, 43-0, travels to Pueblo to meet Dolores Huerta Prep on Friday before returning for its second home game Sept. 14 against Pikes Peak Christian.

Sand Creek plays home opener away from home

Perhaps too much of a good thing earlier this summer ended up costing Sand Creek’s football program a season-opening home game at its renovated stadium.

Monsoon rains in July and August delayed a project to install synthetic turf at the school’s facility, and when work couldn’t conclude on the encompassing track in time for Friday’s opener against Pueblo Centennial, the game had to be moved 4 miles north to District 49 rival Vista Ridge.

The Scorpions lost, 57-7.

“It was a bummer for us and the kids,” first-year Sand Creek coach Ricky Lobato said. “I think the turf took two or three weeks longer than it was supposed to, then they had to do the track.”

The Scorpions, who travel to meet Cheyenne Mountain on Friday, instead will play on its new surface – complete with a scorpion logo at midfield and scarlet red end zones – Sept. 14 against 3A defending state champion Palmer Ridge.

“We’re excited to play on it,” Lobato said. “It’s a gorgeous field, and it’s definitely our field, not anybody else’s. And playing Palmer Ridge for the first game makes it even more exciting. Our kids are jazzed to play them.”

Doherty grad Washington included on FIVB World Championship prelim roster

Haleigh Washington, a two-time Colorado Gatorade Player of the Year who helped Doherty volleyball win the 2012 5A state title with a perfect 29-0 record and later had a decorated, four-year career at Penn State, is among 22 players on the initial roster for the U.S. national team for the upcoming world championships in Japan.

The roster will be reduced to 14 players for the tournament, Sept. 29-Oct. 20, in which the U.S. squad will be looking to defend its world title.

Washington, who graduated from Doherty in 2014, completed her college career in 2017 and registered more than 1,000 kills and 500 blocks. The AVCA All-American later signed a contract to play professional volleyball in Italy.

Stevenson takes over boys’ lacrosse reins at Lewis-Palmer

Drew Stevenson is the new head coach for the Lewis-Palmer School District 38 boys’ lacrosse squad, replacing Dan Mullins, who recently departed following a 15-year career in the college and high school ranks.

Stevenson, an assistant coach at L-P last year, helped the Rangers to a 9-7 record and a 5A playoff berth for the second straight season.

The upcoming season will see the Rangers in a new conference with six teams that reached the postseason a season ago, including reigning champ Regis Jesuit and runner-up Kent Denver. L-P also graduated three all-state players.

“Our team will reload with a young group of players that will be expected to contribute right away,” Stevenson said in a release. “And we’ll see who will step up and surprise us.”

Stevenson was a four-year letterman at Roanoke College and later led programs at Saint Ignatius (Ill.) Prep, Robert Morris (Ill.) University and Concordia University Chicago. He also served as strength coach with the Major League Lacrosse franchise in Chicago.

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