A week after the Monarch High football team escaped a scare from Falcon in the first round of the postseason, Coyotes coach Phil Bravo ran into to FHS coach Trevor Hudson.
Hudson complimented Bravo's team, but singled out running back Ethan Marks.
"He said that a lot of backs can run through space like Ethan can," Bravo said. "But he said that very few can run through crowds like Ethan can."
Marks was the ultimate hybrid, a player with breakaway speed who also excelled in the trenches. With Monarch's offense geared to a grind-it-out, clock-eating style, Marks was the prototype.
The poised and humble junior rushed for 604 yards on 140 carries -- and that was just in the Coyotes' four-game playoff march to the Class 4A crown. He finished the season with 1,975 yards rushing overall and 21 touchdowns, and he added a pass-receiving TD. For his efforts, he's been named the BoCoPreps.com football player of the year.
"He's just really, really strong, and that's where he gets his great running skills," said Bravo, who indicated Marks is among the most dedicated players in the weight room. "Plus, if he does bust through and get to that second level, he has the speed to go."
Marks would have been a cinch for 2,000 yards had he not battled back ailments through a significant portion of the regular season. A sprained AC joint and inflamed discs in his lower back limited his carries (he twice had only two carries in a game and didn't have a single rush on Oct. 19 vs. George Washington).
He made up for lost time in the playoffs, averaging 35 carries. He had more than 40 in gritty wins against Pueblo West in the semifinals and Denver South in the championship game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
"It was a little frustrating in the regular season, but our team is loaded with more kids that can step up," Marks said. "That gave them their opportunity, and it gave me some rest time before the playoffs."
Marks didn't snivel as backs such as Philip Bubernak, Logan Soole and Harrison Leachman ate up midseason carries. He realized it was a mechanism to leave him geared up for an epic postseason.
"I'd say so," Marks said. "And as the season goes on, you get in better shape, too, so you can handle more carries."
Bravo said his team operated best when it took on the stoic, focused persona of Marks. Some teams thrive off of amped-up emotions, whereas the Coyotes struggled unless they were in down-to-business mode.
Marks regularly deflects credit to his offensive line and often doesn't understand what all the fuss is about regarding his own achievements. But when Monarch needed one yard on fourth down to cap a 17-14 win against Denver South in the title game, there was no doubt who'd get the ball.
Marks gained 6 yards, and the Coyotes were champions for the first time since 2002.
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