DENVER -- The Centaurus High football team had just lost a state quarterfinal game to Eaglecrest in 1993, and Fred Tesone tracked down Phil Bravo in the school hallway.
Tesone, the legendary former Cherry Creek coach, had watched the game that day and was impressed by what he saw with Centaurus' double-wing offense.
"He told me, 'Don't ever change what you're doing,'" Bravo, now the coach at Monarch, recounted Saturday. "He told me, 'You have a system that no one can match. Don't ever change.' And that guy's carrying a lot of rings on his fingers, so I respect him a lot."
It's partly because of that brief conversation that Bravo never wavered and can now sport the same number of championship rings as a head coach as Tesone -- three.
Bravo's Coyotes won their second Class 4A state championship on Saturday at Sports Authority Field, 17-14 over Denver South. (Bravo also won a title in California before taking over at Centaurus in 1991.)
Unwavering. Methodical. Disciplined.
Those are the traits that have defined Bravo's squads, first in California, then at Centaurus and, since 1998, at Monarch. And they're the same traits that fueled Monarch's march to a gold trophy on Saturday.
The sun doesn't rise as predictably as Monarch grinds out victories with its run game and a solid defense.
Facing a Denver South squad with size, speed and athleticism all over the field, Bravo told his team this week: "Our discipline and our execution will overcome their athleticism."
That's exactly what played out Saturday. And why not? Bravo's squads have been perfecting the same approach for decades now.
That's why on Saturday, when a Monarch interception halted the Coyotes' first drive of the game, the Coyotes went away from the passing game to the tune of just one more attempt through the air.
That's why, with the game tied 7-7 in the first half, Bravo didn't hesitate to go for it on fourth-down-and-3 from MHS' own 27. The Coyotes didn't make it, but their defense did get the ball back three plays later on a fumble. So faced with fourth-and-2 at their own 40 on the next drive, the Coyotes surely wouldn't take such a risk again after dodging such a bullet, right?
They did. They made it. And they proceeded to march toward a go-ahead touchdown that changed the complexion of the game.
"We figured we're here to win; you might as well play to win," Bravo said. "Don't come out and play passive. It's been our football all year long. What message would it send to our boys if we didn't go for it? ... That's how we do things."
And they never waver.
Outside observers of the program often snicker about the Coyotes' offense being bland, one that can't keep pace with upper-echelon programs in the wide open age of football.
That's not how the Coyotes themselves see it, and certainly not how things played out on Saturday.
"From little league, we were running the double wing at 8 years old," said Ethan Marks, who rushed for 188 yards on a whopping 40 carries Saturday. "Our city builds these machines, and it goes on into high school."
And perhaps that's the most impressive thing about Monarch's accomplishment, that its system is now ingrained in nearly a generation of young men who've come through the program.
Senior defensive back Geoff Clary watched his brother Matt raise a trophy with the Coyotes in 2002 and worked ever since to do the same thing. No doubt scattered in the Sports Authority Field stands were more little brothers and cousins and future Coyotes who bought into the system just by witnessing its results on Saturday.
With two state titles over 15 years of the program and not a single losing season, the Coyotes are no longer the flashy new kids on the block. Their tradition of excellence is for real and enduring.
Don't ever change?
The Coyotes now have a second golden argument for keeping things the same for years to come.
Follow Josh on Twitter: @JoshLindenstein