COLORADO SPRINGS — For all its attributes, there is one thing the Monarch football team simply isn’t built for: erasing a late, multi-score deficit.
The Coyotes, who grind out yards in small-but-effective increments, were grounded to a screeching halt Saturday in the Class 4A semifinals. The result was a 20-0 loss to Pine Creek at windswept District 20 Stadium, where the Coyotes were simply stymied and their comeback attempt never gained traction.
“They were a physical team and they just came out and hit us,” Monarch senior fullback Gus Sawicki said. “It was a battle to the end, but we just couldn’t finish our drives and they could.”
The idea for the Phil Bravo-coached Coyotes (12-1) was to win this one and then take their chances next week against the best defensive team in the state in Valor Christian. Turns out, they might have faced the state’s elite defensive squad in Pine Creek.
The Eagles (13-0) extended their playoff shutout streak to three games and will enter Saturday’s final against Valor Christian at Sports Authority Field having outscored postseason foes a composite 96-0.
Pine Creek limited Monarch to a mere 174 yards on the ground — sophomore Ethan Marks managed 68 yards on 23 carries while subbing for the injured Jared Meschke — and prohibited the Coyotes from completing any of their five pass attempts.
“We fought the whole time, but they just outplayed us,” Monarch defensive back Geoff Clary said. “Especially in the fourth quarter.”
Pine Creek carried a 7-0 lead into the fourth by virtue of a 24-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Warner to Riley Whitworth in the waning moments of the first half.
Eagles running back Josh Beacham rolled in the second half for 119 of his 145 yards, including a backbreaking 45-yard touchdown with 8:25 to play.
“Our coach (Todd Miller) switched some things up at halftime,” Beacham said. “He felt like we could get to the edge with the speed we have, and it worked.”
Warner added a 1-yard sneak with just under 4 minutes remaining to seal it, particularly against a Monarch offense not geared for gathering yards in significant bunches.
“They ran an explosive triple-option, and in the first half we were doing a good job of keeping them out of it,” Monarch safety Wes Moon said. “In the second half, we gave up a few big plays. But we still believed in our offense. They’ve come back before, even last week against Broomfield when we had a minute to get down the field.”
By the end, Monarch players might have felt as though they were looking in the mirror, if not for Pine Creek’s navy-blue uniforms. The Eagles were doing what the Coyotes typically do to opponents — maddeningly churning out first down after first down.
“They caught the edge and used their speed against us,” said Clary, whose interception early in the fourth quarter and return to near midfield gave the Coyotes hope while it was still a one-score game.
Monarch stalled on the Pine Creek 37 on that drive, the only time in the second half the Coyotes were in Eagles territory. They advanced there twice in the first half but stalled at the 21 and 31.
Perhaps a true measure of how much Pine Creek extracted Monarch from its bread and butter was illustrated in the time of possession, in which the Eagles had nearly a 2-minute edge. A Katy Perry-free day on the radio seems more common than Monarch losing a time-of-possession battle.
Monarch players indicated they will root for Pine Creek in the title game — “I definitely want them to show Valor what’s up; I told them all that,” Clary said — and the Coyotes still will have several notable memories from what had been an unblemished season.
“Unless we’re winning the championship I’m not happy,” Moon said. “But I’m really proud of everyone on the team.”
Pine Creek 20, Monarch 0
At District 20 Stadium
Monarch (12-1) 0 0 0 0 — 0
Pine Creek (13-0) 0 7 0 13 — 20
Pine Creek — Riley Whitworth 24 pass from Ryan Warner (Kevin Collison kick).
Pine Creek — Josh Beacham 45 run (Collison kick).
Pine Creek — Warner 1 run (kick blocked).
First downs 11 18
Rushes-yards 46-174 47-282
Passing yards 0 65
Comp-Att-Int 0-5-0 5-14-1
Punts-Avg. 3-43.7 2-40.5
Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties- yards 5-55 3-35
RUSHING — Monarch: Marks 23-68, Sawicki 12-47, Soole 9-52, Blazon 1-9, Bata 1-(minus 2). Pine Creek: Beacham 21-145, Travis 5-75,Cousar 10-45, Warner 10-16, Jackson 1-1.
PASSING — Monarch: Bata 0-5-0, 0 yards. Pine Creek: Warner 5-14-0, 65 yards.
RECIEVING — Monarch: None. Pine Creek: Cross 2-27, Travis 2-14, Whitworth 1-24.