Home, sweet home: EHS set for long-awaited homecoming

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By Deb Hurley Brobst

On Oct. 21, 1978, the Evergreen High School Cougars varsity football team became the little team that could. Against long odds, it beat Columbine 29-22 in Evergreen’s homecoming game.

That was the last varsity football game to be played in Evergreen … until now.

Travel forward 31 years to Oct. 2, 2009, and the football team will once again play a homecoming game on its own turf, against the Conifer Lobos. The big game, dubbed the Mountain Bowl, is set for 7 p.m.

While the significance of playing the game in Evergreen may be lost on today’s high school students, it is huge for the 1978 coaches and football players. Everyone who talks about that long-ago game uses the word “magical” to describe it.

In fact, they remember that 1978 homecoming game as if it happened yesterday, and they are looking forward to Friday’s game.

The 1978 football coaches and players will perform the coin toss at the game. They will be joined by Mary Michele Beaty, wife of the late Bob Beaty, who was EHS’s head football coach from 1977 to 1984.

“What a great thing for both communities” to have the homecoming game in Evergreen, said Ken Waryan, assistant director of athletics and activities for Jefferson County Schools. “I couldn’t ask for more. Principals, administrators and booster groups are working together to make this happen.”

Waryan has a special interest in Friday’s game because he started work as a biology teacher and assistant football coach at Evergreen High School in 1977.

Gene Lewis, who was a junior and a backup tailback for the 1978 team, said the homecoming game was the first time that level of success had been experienced by an Evergreen football team.

“The town really came together with that. There was no room anywhere on that field. In walks (the) Columbine High School (football team), ranked second in the state. There was no way Evergreen should have won. The game was magical. I don’t think I’ve experienced anything else like that.”

Lewis, who coached the boys track and field team for eight years and football for three years at EHS, is now principal at Bradford Primary School in Jeffco.

Mary Michele Beaty said her husband, Bob, who was also a physical education teacher, reminisced often about that particular game.

“It was one of those football games that was a standout in his entire career,” Mary Michele said. “My husband could have told you every play in the game, and it was a turning point in the school in its attitude about winning.”

Mary Michele’s favorite anecdote from that game starts with Columbine scoring 14 points before the Evergreen offense even left the sideline. But the quarterback ran by Bob Beaty and told him not to worry — because Evergreen hadn’t had the ball yet.

Mary Michele, who taught English at EHS in the late 1970s, said her husband’s team had the drive to win.

“The kids were absolutely marvelous,” she said. “They worked, they wanted to win, they did whatever my husband asked them to do. They were a marvelous, marvelous group of kids.”

Even though Evergreen’s coaching staff was young, Mary Michele said, the varsity football team had its first winning season — 7-2-1 — since it became part of the Jefferson County League in 1974.

“That game was one of those magical times. It has great kids, great parents, great community support,” she said.

Mary Michele said she’s looking forward to the coin toss and the game on Friday.

“My husband would have been thrilled to death to do that,” she said.

She said the homecoming game in Evergreen will be wonderful for both Evergreen and Conifer.

“I hope it has the same small-town, community atmosphere as was there in the early days,” she said. “I hope it’s a friendly rivalry, especially since at one time they were all one school.”

Lewis will be at the game on Friday, and he’s not sure which team he wants to win. Lewis, who lives in Marshdale, graduated from EHS, but his children have attended Conifer High.

“Crazy as it is, I’m torn about who I want to win.”

However, Lewis said his real joy will be to attend the game and “celebrate Bob Beaty’s life. He transformed that (football) program when he came up there.”

He’s also looking forward to seeing his former teammates.

“I just love getting together and seeing, in my biased opinion, some of the people who transformed Evergreen into a football town.”

The Bob Beaty Memorial Scholarship is given each spring to an EHS football player. It is named after former football head coach Bob Beaty, who died in November 2008. The first scholarship was given to Josh Ryan.