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AZTEC – Aztec football coach Matthew Steinfeldt said tonight that he stepped down from his position to accept the same role at Bear Creek High School in Lakewood, Colorado.

That alone was an incredibly difficult decision for him because he had become a staple in the sports community.

“Aztec was a great place. It’s a bittersweet day for me because I love this community. The (Bear Creek) job just kind of found me,” Steinfeldt said. “Our kids here are phenomenal. I’m going to miss our players, I’m going to miss our community. I’m going to miss so many things about Aztec.”

Steinfeldt also said he took the job to provide his two children, 8-year-old twins Elijah and Lorraine, with more life opportunities in a bigger, urban area.

“Any time you make a move, it has to do with your family… It just seemed to be a great opportunity at this time of our life, given the age of where my children are,” Steinfeldt said.

Steinfeldt, who will officially begin his tenure at Bear Creek after Memorial Day weekend, went 49-40 in his eight seasons with the Tigers, making the state playoffs seven times. Steinfeldt’s currently finishing up his fourth season as Aztec’s boys basketball coach.

And he now will be tasked with turning around a Bear Creek team that’s won just 29 games since 2012 and restoring its reputation as a playoff contender.

“I see a very rich tradition, very similar to Aztec in many ways. It’s a program that’s always won a lot of games,” Steinfeldt said. “The last couple years has been down. It’s going to be a little bit of a rebuild.”

Steinfeldt said a former colleague during his time as an assistant coach at Fort Lewis College and Texas A&M University-Commerce, who’s now an athletic director in the Denver area, recommended that he apply for the vacancy. Steinfeldt applied for the job on Jan. 19, interviewed shortly after and was made an offer on Jan. 30.

In retrospect, Steinfeldt said his time at Aztec helped him learn about managing and overseeing a staff and how to relate with the community, along with managing personalities and keeping everyone in line.

Despite Bear Creek’s recent struggles, Steinfeldt said it’s great that the team’s offense will return plenty of underclassmen at the skill positions and that he will be able to work with such personnel.

“They struggled record-wise, but they were very competitive… They play in a very challenging district with great schools, a lot of great football,” Steinfeldt said. “If we can get some things changed up there relatively quick, we can match that (competition).”

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 and on Twitter at @MattH_717.

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