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Football: Philosophies will clash in initial Monarch-Fairview matchup

Fairview quarterback Johnny Feauto (left) and Monarch's Zack Berohn hope to deliver a victory to their respective teams in the first football battle between the local rivals (
Fairview quarterback Johnny Feauto (left) and Monarch’s Zack Berohn hope to deliver a victory to their respective teams in the first football battle between the local rivals (

Through the years, there has been one piece preventing the Fairview-Monarch school rivalry from being truly epic.

It’s a pretty big piece.

That will end Saturday, when the teams meet on the gridiron for the first time (10 a.m., Warrior Stadium). Monarch had been a Class 4A football power until this season, when the Coyotes joined Fairview in the 5A Front Range League.

“Playing them in other sports has really gotten this rivalry built up,” Fairview quarterback Johnny Feauto said. “We played them a few years back in a scrimmage and they were really fired up for that. It’s been building up so much, and we’re just excited to put our money where our mouth is and show up on the field.”

Adding fuel to matchup is the steady success of each program. Monarch won the 4A title in 2012, advanced to the semifinals last season and has started its first 5A season with a 3-1 mark.

Fairview was the 5A runner-up last season with a magical 12-1 season and currently sits No. 4 in the AP media poll after beginning the season 4-0.

“It’s awesome that in our senior year we get to go against Fairview for the first time,” Monarch running back/linebacker Philip Bubernak said. “It’s going to be a huge game and there’s going to be tons of people there, but we just need to keep our composure and go in and do as well as we can.”

The venerable, long-standing coaches of each squad persistently have observed the other excel in his respective classification, but never have had to match wits. Fairview coach Tom McCartney said that when he watches the schools compete in other sports, the rivalry aura is unmistakable.

“Everyone’s excited with Monarch being in the Front Range League,” McCartney said. “We have great respect for coach (Phil) Bravo and the school and what they’ve done. They’ve been a tremendous team and powerhouse, and we definitely are excited about the matchup.”

Bravo has watched Fairview from afar and is impressed with what he’s seen. In the past, it wasn’t uncommon for Bravo to ask reporters if they have heard a Fairview score after one of his own games.

Now, he’ll get an up close look at the Knights.

“I wouldn’t consider it a rival game because we haven’t established anything for our end to create that rivalry,” Bravo said. “I mean, they’re a juggernaut. They’re a high-potent team on both sides of the ball. I’m excited to play them. I think it will be fun for our community.”

Although the football teams have never met since the Monarch program was unveiled in 1998, the rivalry persisted. Fairview players often would chide Monarch players about their prowess in 4A, telling them to move up with the big boys.

One example of a Monarch retort came two seasons ago, when then Coyotes quarterback Cole Watson was asked if he minded his role as a quarterback who didn’t throw much. At the time, Monarch was in a deep playoff run and Fairview had been eliminated.

“Monarch, they win games,” Watson said in November 2012. “Fairview, they’re sitting home watching TV or doing homework or whatever.”

Rivalry aside, it is a compelling matchup. Fairview is known for stretching the field with one of the state’s most prolific passing offenses. Feauto has found success with a receiving corps that includes playmakers Tim Ryan, David McWilliams, Connor May and others.

Monarch prefers to chew up large portions of the clock with a patient, ground-based attack. The powerful Bubernak has compiled nearly 700 rushing yards in the three games he’s played and fullback Chad Sloan is another physical ball-carrier.

“We have definitely been there before where maybe our identity and philosophy was to grind it and run it,” McCartney said. “We have a respect for how they do it.”

The clash of philosophies might be as riveting as the rivalry itself.

“It should definitely be interesting,” Feauto said. “We usually have very long games and they usually have very short games. I’m really excited. I’ve watched a lot of film and we’re seeing where we can attack them. We know they’re a pretty good team, so we can’t wait to see how we match up against them.”

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