ARVADA — It wasn’t the running-clock rout that Monarch football fans have become accustomed to.
But the top-ranked Coyotes’ 21-3 win against Standley Lake on Thursday night had a deeper meaning than some of those blowouts, save for the Coyotes’ recent shellacking of No. 1 Broomfield.
This grind-it-out Class 4A Mountain League win at the North Area Athletic Complex put a bow on Monarch’s fourth consecutive conference championship. Sparked by 215 yards and two touchdowns by junior running back Ethan Marks, the victory also put the Coyotes in prime shape for a high postseason seed.
Brackets will be released Sunday.
“I think we made a case for a one-through-four seed,” Coyotes coach Phil Bravo said. “Our wild-card points might not be indicative of that, but I think the seeding committee will see that we’re league champs and that our loss was early. I’m hoping to see us in the top portion of that seeding.”
Bravo almost undoubtedly will get his wish, and barring the unforeseen, Monarch (9-1, 5-0) will open the postseason at home next week.
First, the Coyotes had to take care of pesky Standley Lake (7-3, 3-2), which was fighting for its playoff life. The Gators, who will be on the bubble, trailed only 7-3 at the half.
Monarch then dominated the second, posting a 13-0 advantage in first downs and a 14-0 spread on the scoreboard. The Coyotes’ Jon Sanders-led defense held the Gators to a mere eight offensive plays in the second half for 14 yards.
“At halftime, we actually learned a little bit about ourselves, about what this team is really made of,” Monarch senior lineman Austin Beswick said. “That really showed in the second half. We really had to dig deep and get our grit out.”
Both Bravo and Beswick mentioned an initial letdown after last week’s poll-shifting 42-7 win against Broomfield. Standley Lake’s strong first half offered a stern reminder of what was at stake.
“Of course being league champs isn’t the ultimate goal,” Beswick said. “It just shows how hard we’ve worked, because we’ve had some very, very hard opponents.”
Marks, meanwhile, was as congruent as can be. His 18 first-half carries resulted in 108 yards and one touchdown. His second-half numbers: 18 carries for 107 yards and one touchdown.
Marks’ first-half touchdown actually was through the air. Quarterback Cole Watson delivered a perfect pass down the left sideline into the running back’s arms to give the Coyotes a 7-0 lead. Marks found the end zone again early in the fourth quarter on an 11-yard run that served as the dagger.
After a season somewhat limited by injuries, it was vintage Marks.
“I think so,” sophomore running back Logan Soole said. “Last week, he really played great and that was obviously the true him. I mean, he is really good and our line is blocking great, too.”
Soole scored his own touchdown on a 2-yard run, capping Monarch’s 14-play, 87-yard drive to begin the second half. Soole — he is listed by his middle name, Kidd, on the roster — has morphed into a regular ball-carrier role after initially deciding to skip the season to concentrate on baseball.
He rushed for 43 yards on 11 carries.
“It’s really been great to be back among these guys,” Soole said. “They’ve really been great. They’re like my brothers, pretty much.”
Follow Paul on Twitter: @PaulWillis21
MONARCH 21, STANDLEY LAKE 3
At North Area Athletic Complex
Monarch (9-1, 5-0) 7 0 7 7 — 21
Standley Lake (7-3, 3-2) 0 3 0 0 — 3
Monarch — Ethan Marks 25 pass from Cole Watson (Jamie Falloon kick).
Standley Lake — Tanner Flack 25 FG.
Monarch — Kidd Soole 2 run (Falloon kick).
Monarch — Marks 11 run (Falloon kick)
First downs 23 8
Rushes-yards 58-310 28-81
Passing yards 40 34
Comp-Att-Int 2-3-0 4-10-1
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 1-1
Penalties-Yards 6-65 6-42
RUSHING — Monarch: Marks 36-215, Soole 11-43, Bubernak 2-18, Watson 5-17, Pape 4-7; Standley Lake: Downing 15-52, Roach 2-12, Muller 4-10, Moore 1-6, McKinney 2-4, Naranjo 4-(-3).
PASSING (comp-att-int-yards) — Monarch: Watson 2-3-0, 40 yards; Standley Lake: Naranjo 4-10-1, 34 yards.
RECEIVING — Monarch: Marks 1-25, Pape 1-15; Standley Lake: Durant 2-17, Jarvis 2-17.