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Brent Vieselmeyer helped start a high school powerhouse at Valor Christian

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Brent Vieselmeyer had one thought when asked by a group of parents if he wanted to be part of their efforts to start Valor Christian High School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado: "Absolutely not."

Vieselmeyer, who was the defensive coordinator for Orange Lutheran High School at the time, had no intention of leaving Southern California. He had never left the state, other than to go on vacation, and his wife grew up down the street from him.

Nevertheless, he gave the opportunity its due diligence. He said he would interview for the head coaching job for the new high school and do some consulting for them, but that's about as far as it would go.

Vieselmeyer jokes that he doesn't know how he was talked into it; perhaps it was the snowstorm that kept him in Colorado for a week longer than he intended when he drove out to visit the area, giving the school a few extra days to pitch him the job.

By the time Vieselmeyer left, he was the Eagles' first head coach. For Valor Christian, it was the origin story for a powerhouse that has won eight state titles, the most recent coming in 2018. For Vieselmeyer, it was the chance to mold a program from the ground up and create an unforgettable experience.

"It kept you humble," Vieselmeyer said. "It was cool, though. We had some good times."

Photos via Shaw Sports Turf

It didn't start out that way. Vieselmeyer and family began preparing for the move not long after he took the job, but moving his entire life to another state was a bit of a process. The housing market had just collapsed, so they weren't able to sell their house until after he, his wife and newborn child were already in Colorado.

"I leave all the furniture, we're living in an apartment," Vieselmeyer said. "It's like true college [experience]."

Their apartment was placed where the outfield of the baseball field was supposed to be as he waited for their house to sell. One window had a good view of the school, so he could watch as the school went through the final steps of construction.

He wasn't expecting to look out of that window one day and see that the school roof was on fire.

"I looked at my wife and I'm like, 'We might be moving back,'" Vieselmeyer said.

Photos via Valor Christian LinkedIn

The fire was inadvertently caused by a welder who set the tar paper on the roof ablaze. The accident threatened to uproot all their plans for starting in the spring. The biggest concern, of course, was stopping the fire, but Douglas County didn't have fire trucks that could reach that high.

That was solved easily enough. The county found a truck that could stretch far enough to put out the fire that week. The school's opening day ended up getting pushed back to Labor Day, but there was a positive that came from the experience. Once the fire was reported on the local news, the school received about 200 applications to fill teaching positions.

With that major obstacle out of the way, Vieselmeyer could begin building a football program. It turns out that starting a culture from nothing is more difficult than one would believe. Even if there's a bad culture from the previous regime, Vieselmeyer said, there's still something to work with.

Luckily, Vieselmeyer had a good template to work off of from his time at Orange Lutheran. At the time, the Lancers were one of the best teams in California with a 46-6 record from 2004-07. Still, building something like that takes time.

"It's just hard when they're younger students, understanding how this is gonna go because we didn't have any seniors in the school," Vieselmeyer said. "It started with freshmen and sophomores, and everybody is looking around for leadership."

Photo via The Denver Post

It was an exciting experience, Vieselmeyer said, but he spent much of his time being worried about a long list of issues. For starters, he had to build out a lot of the helmets himself by screwing on the face masks and inserting the padding. There wasn't funding for the program, but the school managed to allocate some startup money and held several fundraisers to get the program off the ground.

It wasn't extravagant, but the materials he got was everything he and the program needed.

"We had a great board, and the head of school was awesome," Vieselmeyer said. "It was a group that was really...trying to get excellence in all things. It was a cool, refreshing kind of deal."

Since most of Vieselmeyer's first team was comprised mostly of freshmen and sophomores, Valor Christian played a JV schedule in its first season. They went 4-6 that year with their first win coming against Alameda with a 56-35 victory.

Photos via CHSAA

The next year was a complete turnaround. Valor Christian went undefeated and won the 3A state title in convincing fashion with a 41-14 victory over Steamboat Springs. They went on to win three more titles in the following seasons -- a 38-8 win over Wheat Ridge, a 66-10 thrashing of Pine Creek and a 9-0 win over Cherokee Trail.

Half of Valor Christian's championships came under Vieselmeyer's watch, and he still keeps in touch with a few members of that first senior class. Danny Ramirez, one of the offensive tackles, owns a chain of restaurants that serves "the best Mexican food you can get in Denver," Vieselmeyer said. He's also still friendly with the head of the school and baseball coaches who are still there.

And he's not surprised that they're all living successful lives, either, because they took a risk.

"They came to a brand new school. It was crazy. It wasn't like they had to go there," Vieselmeyer said. "A lot of transferred sophomores took a risk, went for it, and look what happened."

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