Football: New coach Brewer trying to change attitudes at Niwot

Greg Lindstrom
Niwot seniors, Jake Sarosi, left, Cahill Kelleghan, center, and Nathan Merriman hope to help lead a Cougar turnaround this fall.

NIWOT — The checklist of values and attitudes that adorn the T-shirts for Niwot football’s 2012 season are almost maddeningly direct and simple.

Attitude. Discipline. Trust. Respect. Hard work. These are the traits that typically define winning football programs.

They also are traits that have been lacking in the Niwot program for some time. Josh Brewer is aiming to change that.

Hired in early May after a somewhat surprising end to the 11-year tenure compiled by former coach Ron Tesone, Brewer is attempting to overhaul the culture within a program that won just five games in the previous three seasons.

If that means interrupting practice on occasion to forcibly remind his new charges of what is expected, so be it.

“We’re trying to start all over,” Brewer said. “We’re really stressing good technique in everything we do in really small amounts. We’re trying to increase the little things, because that’s where we’re behind everybody in the conference.

“Right now, we’re trying to keep it simple and maximize our reps in practice. I interrupted a couple practices and I just remind them of the things we talk about. I’ll interrupt a drill and remind them what we’re doing. That attitude has to change. I’ve been a part of a bunch of losing programs that turned into winning programs, and the main switch that has to happen is the attitude.”

Brewer spent the past four years at Arizona Western College, but the former University of Northern Colorado defensive back also has logged time as an assistant at Northridge and Greeley Central, his alma mater.

Brewer is charged with reversing a three-year downslide the Cougars experienced under Tesone. Although Tesone went 66-52 overall during his 11 seasons, Niwot has gone only 5-25 in the past three seasons, including a 2-8 finish last year that included a forfeited win.

The Cougars’ seniors have experienced very little success, yet they remained focus on helping their new coach set the foundation for future glory.

“That’s one of our most important goals this season,” senior linebacker Jake Sarosi said. “The past few seasons haven’t been up to quite where we want to be. This season we just want to come out and play each game as hard as we can on the field. I think we have the players to do it.

“(Brewer) has brought a lot of intensity and wants us to play smart football. We’re definitely becoming smarter players.”

Niwot should fare well on offense, where the bulk of the Cougars’ experience can be found at the skill positions. Leading the way will be senior quarterback Nate Merriman. Merriman threw for more than 1,000 yards last season with 11 touchdown passes and only seven interceptions in 163 attempts. Merriman should fare well in a Niwot attack that is expected to be more wide-open.

“(Brewer) has brought a whole new intensity to the program, and it’s something we haven’t had in a while,” Merriman said. “We’ve been champing at the bit to get some juice in the program and have a new day. We’ve usually been a team that pounds with the run game. We definitely have the tools to spread it around a bit.”

Follow Pat Rooney on Twitter: @prooney07