The evolution for Dolores football began long before the ball is teed up for the opening kickoff this season.
For a program looking to revive a proud tradition, first-year head coach Joseph Gonzales looks to build a team whose identity reflects the community.
"Dolores is a hard-working community, and we want our players to embody that attitude every time they step out onto the field," said Gonzales.
The Bears have officially shifted into the eight-man ranks after a transition year in which DHS played a number of hybrid contests involving 11-man and eight-man sequences. They'll join the Mountain League, where local rivals Mancos and Dove Creek have held court over recent years.
With a squad that’s bought into the offseason workout regimen, the Bears’ new coach hopes to create another football power in Southwest Colorado.
Gonzales served as offensive and defensive line coach for the Bears in 2021, a season in which Dolores picked up their first win in three years, before shifting to his new role during the offseason.
He inherits a hungry, albeit youthful group for his maiden season at the helm, looking to turn heads this fall.
“We want to build a foundation from day one,” said Gonzales, “and we saw an increase in turnout in our offseason workouts, which shows that these guys are motivated and ready to start something special.”
Seniors Ethen Robson and Braden Boyd, and junior Ty Gaddis earned captaincy roles for the Bears this season, voted on by their peers as players that aligned with the team-first vision of the program.
After graduating four-year starter Wyatt Koskie at quarterback, the Bears turn to sophomore Trayton Traweek to take snaps in the Bears offense.
In the early season scrimmages, the Bears cut their teeth against some of the other local eight-man programs, with lots to show for their efforts.
“I’m excited with how much this group has developed in terms of maturity,” added Gonzales. ”They’ve been willing to take on extra responsibility including some of our incoming freshmen.“
The Bears kick off the season on Friday, Sept. 9, on the road against Soroco. Their home opener follows on Sept. 16th against Rangely, with a slated 7 p.m. start against the Panthers. That contest can be heard on local radio station KRTZ 98.7 FM, along with krtzradio.com.
League play gets underway on Friday, Sept. 30, against Norwood, before the Bears face Mancos (Senior Day) and Dove Creek (road) in back-to-back weeks in mid-October. The regular season winds down with a trip to Sanford on Oct. 28.
"We want the community to see that the tide is shifting," said Gonzales, "and these players are capable of taking us where we want to go."