Including the two-time Player of the Year, the Monarch boys lacrosse team graduated as much top-tier talent as just about any team in the state after last season. Despite that, the Coyotes have jumped out to a 7-2 start and won their first Front Range League game on Monday.

Prep sports teams are often at the mercy of the cyclical nature of high school graduation and talent cycles. Despite having graduated a number of the state's best players over the past few years, the Coyotes have done as good a job as anyone at remaining relatively immune to the down years those inherent problems can produce.

After watching Monarch beat Denver East on Friday, I caught up with head coach David Auday to check in on what's going in Louisville that has allowed the Coyotes to maintain their recent success.

Question: You guys were up big in this one but it got pretty interesting there at the end. What are you general thoughts on how the game went today?

Auday: You know what, it was a good win. East has played a really hard schedule. They beat Highlands Ranch, a really excellent team, and they've been in dogfights with some other really good teams. I love the way we came out. We were up 4-0 after the first quarter and 11-5 after the third. I think we got a little tired and had way too many turnovers after that but I'm really proud of the guys for the way they followed the scouting report.

East is such a good team that some of the stuff we threw at our guys in the gameplan was counterintuitive. But they executed it perfectly. Aside from a few rough stretches, we played a whale of a ballgame.

This team obviously graduated a ton of guys, and a ton of stats, after last year. Even with this being kind of a rebuilding year, you guys have still managed to hang around and hold your own. What are your thoughts on how the season has gone so far?

You know, we're 6-2 and one of our losses is to Colorado Academy. I think they're ranked sixth and we only lost by a goal. So in this program, there's no rebuilding. We might have lost 90 percent of our offense, but in some ways I felt this team could be better because we're more balanced. We never think rebuild. We're thinking championships.

Now, it's going to be a tough climb, but our guys are good. Like you said, we're not just hanging tough. We've won five in a row and we're 6-2 going into league. We've got some good times ahead of us. That's what I'm thinking.

Every year, I'm sure you guys set benchmarks for yourselves. What are some of those this year and what are some of the things that you are trying to accomplish in order to consider this a successful season?

The standard is: We've been to the Elite Eight the last two years, and three out of the last five, and that's where we need to remain. Admittedly, that's a taller task this year. But our standard remains the same and that's what we're shooting for. And we want to compete for a league title.

Last year Monarch had Chad Kruezer, who graduated at Colorado's all-time scoring leader. You've mentioned your early success and how there are areas in which you think this year's team could be better than last year's. What are some of those?

Great question. We have more depth than we had last year. We have many long poles that can go it, we have three lines of middies, you know, we're not relying as much on two players to create offense. We're more of a team-flow motion offense. I really felt that because of those things we could over-achieve and be better this year. We'll see. Going into league, it's exciting.

Lacrosse is one of the fastest-growing sports and it doesn't seem like it's slowing down. What has it been like for you to watch the sport you have dedicated a significant portion of your life to grow and attract more and more younger people to join its ranks?

The fun thing is that lacrosse has gotten so good that there are no more gimmes. You still have all the powerhouses but even in league, you have to bring it in every game. It's cool. It's good for me to see as a 17-year tenured coach in Colorado. It's been great to watch this game just grow out of control in a good way.

Even just in our area, we'll see a few more teams popping up in the next few years. I think it's great for the sport. It might hurt us a little bit. But I think it's wonderful that the sport of lacrosse is reaching more and more kids.

Brad Cochi: or