This story originally appeared in Mile High Sports Magazine. Read the full digital edition.

After overseeing one of the greatest turnarounds in college football history, Colorado Buffaloes head coach Mike MacIntyre is our Executive of the Year. Read the full story here.

But 2016 was a banner year in Colorado sports for other reasons. These finalists for our Coach of the Year award helped make it so.

Gary Kubiak
Head Coach – Denver Broncos

It’s pretty simple, really: Gary Kubiak, in his first year as Broncos head coach, won a Super Bowl. Complain all you want about his “antiquated” and “outdated” offense, but the reality is Kubes pushed all the right buttons during the Broncos’ super stretch. He benched Brock Osweiler for Peyton Manning at the perfect time and Denver rode that spark all the way to a championship. In the process, Kubiak cemented his standing as a Colorado coaching legend with three Super Bowl rings. 

Jay Madden
Head Coach – Pomona High School Football

Not only did Jay Madden lead Pomona to their second consecutive 5A State Championship berth in 2016, but he did it under impressive circumstances. First, the Panthers lost the 2015 state final to Valor Christian in devastating fashion, but Madden’s team didn’t miss a beat on their journey back to the big stage. Second, Pomona dealt with an unusual number of injuries that kept piling up throughout the season, and still made it to the title game. Madden’s bunch will be there for years to come; a breakthrough will happen eventually.

Pablo Mastroeni
Head Coach – Colorado Rapids

The Rapids were arguably the best story in the MLS this past season, as their massive turnaround led by Pablo Mastroeni was one of the best in league history. After finishing last in the Western Conference with just 37 points in 2015, Colorado finished second in the West with 58 points – a franchise record – in 2016. A dramatic shootout victory against Los Angeles to advance to the Conference Championship capped an incredible bounce back season, with the gregarious and enthusiastic Mastroeni front and center.

Jim Montgomery
Head Coach – University of Denver Hockey

DU hockey hasn’t won a National Championship since 2005, but that nearly changed this past season under Jim Montgomery. In his third year guiding the program, the Pioneers made it to the “Frozen Four” before dropping a heartbreaker in the NCAA Semifinal to North Dakota. But the tournament run signified Denver hockey is back and the Pios will be a force to be reckoned with for the foreseeable future. Through the first 15 games of 2016-17, DU was ranked No. 2 in the country.

B.J. O’Hara
Head Coach – Denver Outlaws

The Broncos weren’t the only team to bring a championship back to the Mile High City in 2016, as the Outlaws and B.J. O’Hara won their second title in three seasons by defeating Ohio 19-18 in a thrilling final. The most remarkable aspect of the run orchestrated by O’Hara and his team was the fact the Outlaws were 2-6 at one point in the regular season before reeling off six straight victories to secure a playoff spot followed by two playoff wins to snag the trophy.

Wade Phillips
Defensive Coordinator – Denver Broncos

While Gary Kubiak sat atop the Broncos coaching staff, many believe Wade Phillips deserves equal credit. After all, it was Phillips’ defense that propelled the Broncos to victory, allowing Denver to host its first title parade in 15 years. The “Son of Bum” took a defense that was made up of largely the same personnel from one season to the next, and the group went from “pretty good” to one of the all-time bests. What his bunch managed to do against Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady and Cam Newton on the way to a Super Bowl 50 win was beyond special – it was legendary.

Featured Image Credits: USA TODAY Sports Images; Colorado Sports Network; University of Denver; Major League Lacrosse, Pretty Instant