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ARVADA, CO - AUGUST 14: Pomona head coach Jay Madden talking to his quarterback Ryan Marquez during their practice at Pomona high school in Arvada. August 14, 2017 Arvada, Colorado. (Photo by Joe Amon/The Denver Post)
ARVADA, CO – AUGUST 14: Pomona head coach Jay Madden talking to his quarterback Ryan Marquez during their practice at Pomona high school in Arvada. August 14, 2017 Arvada, Colorado. (Photo by Joe Amon/The Denver Post)

This summer, will take an early look at each area football team ahead of the fall season and in this installment, we look at the Legacy Lightning.

Jay Madden has found a new football home at Legacy High School after spending nearly two decades building a state power with Pomona 10 miles to its south.

Much of the job is the same, he insisted by phone last week. And at the same time, there’s a newness to it he hasn’t felt in years.

“It’s pretty much the exact same plan, it’s just a matter of there’s a lot more to teach and a lot more of getting to know people,” said Madden, who was announced as the successor of former coach Corey Heinz in May. “I mean I’d known the people in the Pomona neighborhood since they were 12 or 8.”

New names to learn, sure, but being a football coach has always fit Madden as snug as his football namesake.

His resume at the Arvada school was highlighted with more than 200 wins and a state title before he stepped away following the 2020 season. Itching to come back a year later, he arrived at Legacy, passion untamed.

Growing pains, he expects, will be a part of his return.

“How to eat an elephant one bite at a time,” he echoed as the team’s motto. He said the best version of the Lightning will not be in August but rather late in the season.

For now, though, it’s still summer. Madden’s regimen in the sweltering months of the offseason is pretty much the same at Legacy as it was with his former team: Practice three days a week with additional time spent in the weight room and 7-on-7s.

Any job on the field, he said, is open for the taking — or as he puts it, for someone to “earn”. That includes at quarterback, where there’s plenty of competition with last year’s starter Jadon Carter, who threw for 1,502 yards and eight touchdowns.

More will be learned about his team from scheduled preseason scrimmages against Columbine/Vista Ridge and Fossil Ridge ahead of its opener at Arapahoe on Aug. 25.

Some of what we know …

The stalwart

Senior Ryan Bynarowicz. He was a monster contributor on the defensive side of the ball last year and should be again this fall.

The defensive end was named all-conference on the line in 2021. His second season playing varsity, he racked up 29 tackles, 14 coming behind the line of scrimmage, and a team-leading six sacks. He both caused and recovered a fumble.

“Incredible kid, just an incredible kid,” Madden said. “Effort level and attitude are off the charts. And everybody tells me once the pads go on he gets better, so I am looking forward to seeing it.”

Star in the making

Senior Alex Gottschalk. Another standout defensively, Gottschalk had 39 tackles, seven for loss, and 5.5 sacks a season ago.

In Legacy’s playoff loss last November, the labeled middle linebacker on MaxPreps ascended on an otherwise toilsome afternoon for the Lightning, tabbing 10 tackles and two sacks in a 42-17 defeat to Mountain Vista.

Like Bynarowicz, Madden heaped early praise on the senior. Alongside Bynarowicz, the two could spell bad times for opposing backfields in 2022.

“They could be twin brothers, they really could,” Madden cracked. “And they learn so fast. … Those kids are great players and just great kids.”

Solidifying a presence

Madden won’t guess what the win total should or could be in the fall. He chuckled at the very idea.

The goal in his first year at the helm is instead something many in the state’s football circles believe he did his fair share of at Pomona. Overachieve.

“We just want to win one more game than we should,” Madden said. “If we have seven wins now, we want to win eight. … We want to be a little better than people think we’re supposed to be.”

The Lightning went 4-3 during the pandemic 2020 season and finished 6-5 a year ago.

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