AURORA | Mike Schmitt didn’t quite get to have the quintessential storybook ending to his football coaching career at Eaglecrest High School, but it was good to the very last page.
Just two days after leading the Raptors to the brink of a historic Class 5A state championship in a 56-49 loss to Pomona at Mile High Stadium, Schmitt informed his players on Tuesday morning that he was stepping down after eight years with the program.
Schmitt — who also has resigned as the school’s track coach — and his family are set to move to Pennsylvania in a few weeks to be closer to his wife’s family. Eaglecrest athletic director Vince Orlando said the move had been in the works since before the season.
“Mike has had a tremendous impact on our program and he’s put a foundation in place that has made Eaglecrest football prominent around the state now,” Orlando told the Sentinel. “This program is now built for success and we look forward to the next chapter for Raptor football.”
“We’ve come a long ways over the last eight years,” Schmitt said pensively after the championship game. “We were close to getting here in years past and this year was the year. It was just a testament to our boys. The administration has been totally supportive of us and the community has been behind us.
“Eaglecrest is a great school in Colorado when you look at what we put out there as far as athletes, academics and quality human beings. Reflecting on it, it’s been a long eight years. I’m going to enjoy tonight with my coaches and my family.”
Orlando said the Eaglecrest job will be posted by the end of the week and he hoped to have a new coach in place by the end January. It is the second known opening among Aurora programs along with Aurora Central.
The next chapter of Raptors Football indeed looks bright as Schmitt has helped Eaglecrest rise to place it hasn’t been since the early days of the program, when it won the 5A state championship in 1993.
Schmitt — who was Aurora’s second longest-tenured coach behind Grandview’s John Schultz, who has coached 14 years with the Wolves — has provided stability to the Eaglecrest program since he arrived prior to the 2010 season to take over a job vacated by Tom Doherty after six seasons. He came over after serving as offensive coordinator at Overland under Aurora coaching legend Tony Manfredi.
Manfredi — who had several assistants in his three-decade run at Overland go on to build successful programs in a lot of places — believed Schmitt would do good things at Eaglecrest and he was correct.
After two playoff-less years to start, Schmitt led the program to five 5A postseason appearances in six seasons.
The lone miss came in 2015 when the Raptors were infamously kept out of the playoffs when Highlands Ranch chose to self-report a cheating violation at the end of the season that negatively affected Eaglecrest’s wild card points and bumped it out of the postseason.
Schmitt channeled the disappointment into a determination that has led to a two-year run that has included two undefeated regular seasons, a 24-2 overall mark and a state championship game appearance. Pomona is the only program other than Eaglecrest to win 24 games over the past two seasons in the state’s largest classification.
In 2014, Schmitt and the Raptors were on the verge of a massive second round playoff upset of Ralston Valley until the Mustangs’ Collin Root booted through a 56-yard field on the final play of regulation for a one-point win.
Additionally, Schmitt and wife Lenore, have stepped down as boys and girls track coaches at Eaglecrest. An interim coach or coaches will take over in the spring.
Note: Schmitt is the second Eaglecrest head coach to step down immediately following a state championship game appearance, following John Olander after winning last season’s 5A boys hoops championship. Olander remains at the school as a teacher and Jarris Krapcha was hired to take over.
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel
MIKE SCHMITT’S COACHING RECORD AT EAGLECREST
2017: 13-1 overall (lost to Pomona in 5A state championship game); 2016: 11-1 (lost to Regis Jesuit in quarterfinals of 5A playoffs); 2015: 4-6 (missed 5A playoffs); 2014: 5-6 (lost to Ralston Valley in second round of 5A playoffs); 2013: 7-5 (lost to Cherokee Trail in quarterfinals of 5A playoffs); 2012: 4-6 (lost to Valor Christian in 1st round of 5A playoffs); 2011: 2-8 (missed 5A playoffs); 2010: 3-7 (missed 5A playoffs). Total: 49-40 overall (five playoff appearances, 6-5 postseason record)