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Nederland's Beth Buglione made history last Friday night when she coached the Panthers against Justice at Recht Field in Boulder. With the opening kickoff, she officially became the first female head coach to coach a high school football team in Colorado history.

Friday's game was a momentous occasion. But Buglione and the Panthers have an uphill battle ahead of them while they try to turn around a program that has struggled in recent years just to field a team and suited up just nine players for Friday's game after forfeiting their originally scheduled season opener due to low numbers.

I caught up with Buglione after the Panthers' first game of the season to chat about her historic debut, as well as the past, present and future of the program she made it with.

Question: Tonight (Friday) you became the first woman to coach a football team in Colorado preps history. I know you've had to talk about this a lot lately, but could you please give me your thoughts on what you just accomplished?

Buglione: It's a historic first and it's also my first time as a head coach, period. That moment wasn't lost on me. Right as the ball was getting kicked, my assistant coach goes, 'OK, coach. That's history right there.' I'm just so grateful to be in this position and to be able to work with these amazing kids. Right now, my heart is just more grateful than anything.


You guys didn't have enough players who had logged the requisite practice time in order to field a team for your scheduled season opener against Hayden on Aug. 26. Tonight you started this eight-man football game with nine players in uniform and even played a few series a man down. What did you see out of your guys tonight?

I challenge other kids anywhere in the country to do what these kids just did tonight: playing ironman football and not complaining. We were playing with eight and sometimes seven, and I had a few kids want to come out because they hurt something, somebody's ear hurt, stuff like that, but they gutted it out and I'm super proud of them for that.

We didn't have enough kids the first week but we were going to do everything we could to get down here and make this game happen. The fact that we made it through four quarters, we're pretty excited. I think the conditioning we've been doing and the weightlifting we've been doing went a long way to getting them through this experience.

I think there's only good things ahead for us. We have a few more kids signed up for football now, but it just takes time to get them enough practices to be able to play. There's help on the way and we're always hoping that more kids get excited about it and come out to play.

This Nederland football program has struggled with participation numbers for years. What do you think it will take to get more kids excited about Nederland football again?

There's kids in the school who aren't playing that played last year and we could really use them. I'll just be honest about that. The guys on the team now are my best recruiters. They're the ones going through the school and trying to get their classmates to come out for football, so I'm really proud of them for that.

But at least for now, we'll just keep working with the kids we have. We can't worry about what we don't have. We have to keep focusing on what we do have, and I think we've got some great kids in our program.

Before you arrived this summer, the school declined to pick up veteran coach Aaron Jones' contract for the 2017 school year, which led to about 50 students staging a walkout over the decision and a number of players leaving the program. Do you think any lingering frustration over that decision has anything to do with this fall's low numbers?

I'm very aware of what happened with the previous coach but I don't think it's much of an issue anymore. I reached out to him and asked if he could help maybe get some of the kids out. We've been having trouble getting kids out for football for years now, at least that's what I've heard. Football is hard but hopefully when the kids are out here having fun and getting a good experience, and realizing that this program isn't just about football but is about teaching young men and leaving a legacy, we're hoping more kids will want to be a part of it and join the team.

Your junior Taylor Hoffman had quite a day against Justice. His 128 yards from scrimmage and three interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown, were pretty impressive. How about that Taylor Hoffman guy?

Taylor had three interceptions and he's one of the kids on this team that is a go-to guy on offense. I wanted him to play No. 10, their best receiver, and he was a little doubtful at first in practice. But I thought he could do it and boy, did he ever. I was really impressed with Taylor tonight, that's for sure.

Brad Cochi: or