LOUISVILLE -- With all three starting running backs from last season graduated, the Monarch football team had no choice.
The Coyotes are going to a five-wide, spread offense that will feature 85 percent passing plays with the occasional run to keep the defense honest.
OK, just kidding.
Anyone who has been around MoHi football knows 15-year coach Phil Bravo has built the Coyotes to run, run, then run some more until the opposing defense essentially wilts from spending so much time on the field.
"It's always exciting playing for Monarch as a lineman," senior offensive tackle Josh Hurst said. "We're always running so you get to go hit people, whereas in a passing offense you're more dropping back and protecting."
That leaves junior Ethan Marks as the most experienced ball carrier. Marks started at wingback last fall and gained over 1,000 yards. He wasn’t thrust into the primary role, however, until Meschke was injured late in the season.
"There's not much pressure, because my line does most the work for me," Marks said. "I mean, it's hard to replace those guys, but I just have to work hard, keep my head up and look forward to the season."
Indeed, the Coyotes' line will be stacked once again. Hurst and the gargantuan Austin Beswick (6-foot-4, 275 pounds) will anchor the unit that once again figures to be Monarch's strength.
Beswick, considered Monarch's primary Division-I prospect, said the Coyotes have put last season's playoff loss to Pine Creek in the rearview mirror. Monarch started the season 12-0 before getting blanked 20-0 by the Eagles in the semifinals.
"We came back and we're looking forward to Greeley West in Week 1; start over pretty much," Beswick said. "I think we're all glad to be back, pretty hyped up, and when that first game comes the intensity will just go up."
The Coyotes also must replace key losses at outside linebacker and safety, but the program has always prided itself on being deep. Changeovers at any position shouldn't be too dramatic, because several understudies long have waited in the wings.
"Establishing depth early in the season has always been one of the critical points of our game," Bravo said. "Having solid backups is always my concern."
The most intense position battle has been at running back, where Marks is etched in stone but six players are vying for the additional spots.
Bravo said he wouldn't be averse to eventually tinkering with the Monarch system if the personnel dictated it. In 1990, Bravo coached Nick Sanchez, the older brother of New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, at Whittier Christian High School in La Habra, Calif.
Nick Sanchez threw for over 1,900 yards that season and later played at Yale.
"If we ever had a guy who did the things that would be necessary to move the ball that way, then we would," Bravo said. "Right now, our quarterbacks are more built for play-action. But they probably have the best completion-to-touchdown ratio in the state, because, as infrequent as we throw, most of them are touchdowns."
Senior Cole Watson is listed at No. 1 on the depth chart at QB.
For now, the Coyotes will continue to compile most of their touchdowns on the ground, with many occurring after a clock-chewing drive. That is just fine with the linemen.
"It's definitely more satisfying," Hurst said. "If you think about it, you're on the field more. I'd rather have a drive that's 12 plays than a drive that's two plays."
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