Willis: Monarch’s 2002 football reunion uplifting for current and former players

The decade has seemingly flown by at light speed for Matt Clary and his 2002 Monarch teammates.

Yep, it has been a 10 years since Monarch hoisted the Class 4A football trophy after a 42-35 win against Golden. With the Coyotes squaring off against Golden again Saturday at Warrior Stadium, the timing was right to bring the 2002 squad back to town.

About 15 former players and coaches were honored at halftime of the Coyotes’ 49-0 win.

“I’m glad we were able to do this,” said Clary, whose brother, Geoff, is a senior defensive back on the 2012 team. “We were all talking about the changes of the stadium from when we were here. I know the field house is new, the turf is new, and the (inflatable) helmet they run out there is new. A lot’s new, but it feels the same.”

Coach Phil Bravo is still in command, and it was a delight for the Coyotes front man to see his former pupils.

“I want to suit them up right now,” Bravo said with a laugh. “They all looked so fit and in such good shape that they could go out there and play. It just brings back a lot of great memories of that squad, the pride they had for our school and our community, and how hard they fought to win that championship.”

Monarch players were pumped up by the presence of the ’02 team and were eager to prove that the program remains a capable title contender.

“We watched the (2002) game with them yesterday, and some of the guys talked with us,” Coyotes quarterback Cole Watson said. “It was pretty motivating.”

One of the messages relayed was that a state championship is something that can be cherished long beyond the season. It can be chalked up as a lifetime achievement.

“It meant a lot to these guys when we won it and just as much today,” Clary said. “It’s kind of surreal when it happens on the day of. It took awhile for it to set in, but it’s something I’m going to remember for the rest of my life.”

For a day, it felt like it was 2002 all over again.

“It’s just neat to see them as men and they are just beautiful human beings,” Bravo said.

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