FLC football shakes it up

Skyhawks lose offensive boss, but gain a familiar face on D

There’s a whole lot of shakeup going on in the Fort Lewis College football offices.

Familiar faces are moving on, and one familiar face is rejoining the fold.

Fort Lewis College offensive coordinator Matt Steinfeldt will be the new head coach at Aztec High School next season.

Defensive coordinator Ben Cullen is taking a job closer to home in Indiana with Hanover College.

Tight ends coach Doug Brady is leaving.

Wide receivers coach Ryan Scherling is moving on to take the same position at Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference rival Western New Mexico.

Not all of those positions have been filled, but the new defensive coordinator is all too familiar to the FLC program. Ed Rifilato, who led the Skyhawks to their most recent winning record in 2004, returns to pilot the defense under his former assistant, Cesar Rivas, who couldn’t be more excited to have Rifilato back in the fold.

“That’s kind of a no-brainer right now,” Rivas said Friday of Rifilato taking over the defense.

After two years at FLC, Scherling will be replaced by Micah Smith, who comes to Durango after a year at Wabash College in Indiana as running backs coach. The former Chadron State wide receiver was a four-time letter winner and was second in Division II in punt return yardage in 2006, earning second-team All-RMAC honors. He’s the son of Chadron State athletic director Brad Smith.

“He’s been driving out from Indiana,” Rivas said.

“Great player at Chadron State, was a receiver, special-teams guy. Lot of experience.”

The current FLC head coach said he plans to be patient in filling his other coaching vacancies, even with spring practices fast approaching.

Rivas also said he’s planning to work on the offensive side of the ball this year, leaving the defense in the capable hands of Rifilato and linebackers coach Mark Meng.

Steinfeldt will replace Brad Hirsch at Aztec, who left the team in December. Hirsch led the Tigers to their first state championship since 1953 this fall. Aztec went 13-0 last season, including a 28-17 victory at home against Durango High School.

The Tigers lost several key seniors to graduation, but they return quarterback Adam Lucero and running back Michael Perry. Lucero threw for 3,824 yards and 41 touchdowns last season, and Perry rushed for 1,466 yards and 16 scores.

Rivas thanked his former coaches for their service, especially in their assistance – along with that of returning coaches Brad Wilson, Dave Varnell and Meng – in building this year’s 30-man recruiting class.

“They’ve done a phenomenal job getting the program off the ground,” Rivas said of his staff as a whole. “And now, we’ve got to take it to the next step.”