Columbine football inducts inaugural Hall of Fame class

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By Dan Johnson

DENVER- I am blown away.

It has exceeded my expectations.

It’s great to see old friends and teammates.

These were the common responses to the question one was posed as to what they thought of Columbine’s inaugural Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

On a beautiful spring night at Pinehurst Country Club, 12 former players and the school’s first-ever football coach – Sherm Pruit – were forever cemented into Columbine football lore.

For many of the inductees, the recognition swelled up a range of emotions.

Mike Madsen, who played running back, safety, placekicker and returned punts and kicks, repeatedly mentioned how humbled he was by the honor. Madsen, who graduated from Columbine in 1996 and played Division I football at Brigham Young University from 1999-2002 said that what he remembers most from his high school playing days are: “the friendships formed, the people I played with and the coaches I played for that are most memorable.”

Ralph Place, who was inducted by his brother, had to fight back tears as he recalled some fond memories of his high school days. Place, who rushed for approximately 2,600 yards and 42 touchdowns over his junior and senior seasons said of the honor: “For me it’s validation that I did things the right way, and that’s extremely important to me.”

Doing things the right way was an integral part of Sonny Lubick’s keynote address.

The former Colorado State University football coach routinely brought down the house of several hundred people with well-timed jokes and stories of his coaching days. Lubick, though, did get serious during his speech and applauded the entire Columbine administration and coaching staff for building up such a well-respected program.

“I can see why Columbine is such a good school,” Lubick said. “Frank (DeAngelis, Columbine principal) cares about the students. You have great leadership, character and loyalty to one another.”

Criteria for induction into the Hall of Fame was one had to display excellent character and citizenship. Then excellence on the field was factored in, as was the five-year graduation window, meaning recent graduates like Ryan Miller (2006) will have to wait a few more years before induction.

The only player from the current decade to be honored on May 9 was Dusty Hoffschneider. Hoffschneider, a two-time All-Colorado Defensive Player of the Year, two-time state champion and three-time state champion wrestler, is likely the most-decorated Columbine athlete of all-time.

“No one worked harder in the weight room that Dusty,” said current Columbine coach Andy Lowry, who inducted Hoffschneider.

Hoffschneider, who graduated in 2001, went on to play at the University of Northern Colorado before transferring to the University of Wyoming.

“It’s a great honor to be a part of the first Hall of Fame class,” said Hoffschneider, who currently resides in Littleton. “I had a lot of fun in high school. Being a lineman, it was great to play at Columbine because we were always given credit for what we did, on both sides of the ball.”

2008 Columbine Football Hall

of Fame inductees

Richard Mart, 1975; Brett Pruit, 1975; Harry Bull, 1976; Laval Short, 1976; Darrell Akerfelds, 1980; Randy Wells (posthumously), 1981; Dirk Visser, 1982; Paul Rose, 1986; Jack Wilmot, 1991; Ralph Place, 1993; Mike Madsen, 1996; Dusty Hoffschneider, 2001; Sherm Pruit, Columbine’s first football coach, 1973-85