Sand Creek football bulks up in search of continued improvement

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David Ramirez has experience in turning a program around. Before he took over as coach at Pueblo East in 2007, the Eagles had won just one game from 2005 to 2006. In Ramirez's first season at the helm, the Eagles managed one win again before winning seven games in 2008. The Eagles have not had a losing season since.

Ramirez also knows that that kind of transformation is a process.

The Scorpions were winless in 2015 and posted one win last year when Ramirez took over, a 14-8 victory over Air Academy. As the team continues to build, Ramirez continues to see improvement especially with an offseason in which the team has spent more time competing against each other and other local teams in camp at CSU-Pueblo.

"Last year we spent a lot of time just trying to build a foundation, build a base for what we're trying to do" Ramirez said. "This year, we really wanted to spend some time and really develop a number of players."

A big focus for the Scorpions this offseason has been the weight room. Ramirez said spending more time in the weight room was something he wanted to see after the season ended last year.

"Before coming in, you could tell that there wasn't a big expectation for (the players) to be in the weight room, so we really wanted to develop that and develop just the strong work ethic and build our team chemistry," Ramirez said. "If we can do that, a lot of the other things tend to take care of themselves."

"Bigger, stronger athletes are going to be more successful, and we wanted our guys to be physically ready every time they stepped on the field."

The players also see it as an advantage. Junior Nick Quarles, who plays on both the offense and defense, believes the weight room is beneficial in more ways than one.

"When you're in the weight room, you're not only getting physically stronger, you're betting mentally stronger, too," Quarles said. "Telling yourself to push past the pain to get one extra rep will lead to pushing past the pain to get one more yard in the game if you're fighting for a first down.

"The weight room really comes in handy because if you're in shape, you're healthy, and if you're healthy you don't get hurt, and when you don't get hurt you have more chances to play."

The Scorpions will again be led by quarterback Damon Murdock, who threw for 1,256 yards a season ago with six touchdowns and seven interceptions as a sophomore.

Ramirez said Murdock has been one of the hardest workers in the weight room and he's excited to see what Murdock will achieve this season.

"He's going to make significant gains from last year to this year just based on his work ethic," Ramirez said.

The Scorpions are feeling optimistic heading into the season and are confident that this year will produce greater improvement and more wins.

"Down at East I was able to build a culture in which hard work was the expectation, and there was going to be tight camaraderie among the guys and really just a strong family atmosphere, and that's what we've tried to focus on here," Ramirez said. "If we can build the work ethic and self-discipline these players need to be successful, we can replicate that success here.

"There's a ton of talent here locally, (and) there's a ton of talent here specifically into Sand Creek, but we're just continually building it. You know, transformation like what we are trying to do is not an overnight thing, so we're building it day in and day out."