A football epiphany overwhelmed Daniel Ryerson the first time he heard his new coach’s simple explanation of teamwork.

“He would say, ‘Look to the left; those are your brothers. Look to the right, those are your brothers,’” Ryerson said, recounting the team-first, one-heartbeat family philosophy of Aspen High School football coach Mike Sirko.

“He ... talked about giving it your best shot. Give 100 percent ... 48 minutes of hell,” Ryerson said of the powerful words he heard seven years ago when he was a high school student/football player.

“I thought, ‘This guy can teach us how to win,’” said Ryerson, an AHS graduate now attending Grinnell College in Iowa, where he’s also playing college football.

“He was passionate about football ... passionate about the team, about the brotherhood,” Ryerson said in a telephone interview with The Aspen Times on Wednesday. “He showed that he would put his entire effort into making us better.”

Sirko this week announced his retirement as the Aspen High School head football coach after seven seasons — seven winning seasons and seven consecutive playoff appearances.

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