LONGMONT -- The Monarch football team hasn't been in this position this late in the season very often.
Since 1999, the Coyotes have only missed the state playoffs once -- three years ago while in the 5A ranks. But coming into this weekend's play, they were on the outside looking in as far as the postseason goes, albeit very much on the bubble. Specifically, they sat at the No. 17 position in the RPI in Class 4A, where 16 teams at the end of the regular season next weekend will advance to the playoffs.
But the tide seems to have turned for Monarch late in the season. To wit: Friday's night's 50-10 victory over host Silver Creek at Everly Montgomery Field gave the Coyotes consecutive victories for the first time in over a year.
"That feels amazing, absolutely awesome," said senior Mason Kreiter, who recovered two fumbles on Friday and returned the second one 25 yards for a touchdown. "I felt like our team had the potential. We had such a tough schedule that we couldn't capitalize on it. But finally we're getting our opportunities."
And for a team that came into the contest averaging 13 points per game, Monarch scored 21 in the second quarter alone and 50 in the final three periods. Helping the cause was MHS forcing three turnovers in the second period, four in the first half and five overall.
The bottom line is that the victory kept alive the hopes of the Coyotes (4-5 overall, 2-2 in Longs Peak League action) for a .500 record in the regular season -- and helped their playoff prospects.
"I think we're getting good at the right time," veteran Monarch coach Phil Bravo said. "We've got one game left and with a goal to finish 5-5, we have a chance to make the playoffs. I think we'll be a tough first-round opponent if we're fortunate enough to get in."
Monarch trailed 3-0 after one period on Friday and didn't have an offensive play go for double-digit yards. But a play early in the second quarter seemed to give a spark to the Coyotes, who scored the next 35 points. On the play, quarterback Kyle Gordon ran for 13 yards, and 15 more were tacked on via a personal-foul penalty on Silver Creek. MHS took advantage with a 5-yard touchdown run by Austin Fiala to cap a 68-yard drive and take the lead.
The next two scores were set up by fumble recoveries -- by Kreiter and Trey Stewart, respectively -- as Will Ponder and Fiala hit pay-dirt. And an interception by Mitch Perez shortly before halftime preserved a 21-3 lead for Monarch at intermission.
And when Ricky Stimac and Ponder scored touchdowns on MHS' first two possessions of the third quarter, MHS had a 35-3 cushion.
"We've played a gauntlet of a schedule with Broomfield, Loveland, Greeley West, Skyline and Rampart," Bravo said. "When we played those teams they were in the top 10. The kids are getting confidence, and we're playing better because of it."
Fiala finished the night with 94 yards on 16 carries, leading the way for a Monarch rushing attack that finished with 256 yards.
Silver Creek, which held senior night on Friday, is now on the verge of missing the playoffs for the second straight season. The loss dropped the Raptors to 2-7 and 1-3 in league.
Quarterback Carter Closson threw for 210 yards for Silver Creek, with Cole Riters catching catching eight passes for 114 yards.
In next week's regular-season finales on Nov. 2, Monarch will host Greeley Central while Silver Creek will be at Fort Collins.
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Monarch 50, Silver Creek 10
At Everly-Montgomery StadiumMonarch (4-5, 2-2)0211415—50Silver Creek (2-7, 1-3)3007—10
Silver Creek — Coltan Grabau 28 FG.
Monarch — Austin Fiala 5 run (kick fail). Monarch — Will Ponder 1 run (Ponder run). Monarch — Fiala 2 run (Ty Lanphear kick).
Monarch — Ricky Stimac 4 run (Lanphear kick). Monarch — Ponder 7 run (Lanphear kick).
Silver Creek — Cole Riters 25 pass from Carter Closson (Grabau kick). Monarch — Ryan Shaughnessy 31 run (Lanphear kick). Monarch — Mason Kreiter 25 fumble return (Stimac run).
RUSHING — Monarch: Fiala 16-94, Ponder 11-62, Shaughnessy 8-50, Gordon 5-22, Stimac 5-21, Smith 2-8, Fredricksmeyer 1-1, Lanphear 1-(-2). Silver Creek: Murphy 15-52, Adams 1-22, Owens 1-12, Closson 4-(-12).
PASSING — Monarch: Gordon 24-0-15, Stimac 0-1-0-0. Silver Creek: Closson 15-24-1-210.
RECEIVING — Monarch: Stewart 1-10, Ponder 1-5. Silver Creek: Riters 8-114, Johnson 3-33, Goss 2-37, Miller 2-26.