AURORA — Monarch’s first season as a 5A football program won’t go down as epic. It won’t go into the books as a disaster, either.
According to Coyotes coach Phil Bravo, the season was simply “weird.”
Monarch started fast, endured some excruciatingly close losses in the middle, then culminated Friday night with a 48-7 first-round loss at Regis Jesuit with several key starters shelved by injury.
“It was a combination of playing a really good football team and, with us, we’re so beat up,” Bravo said.
The Coyotes finished 4-6, the first sub-.500 season in program annals. But they qualified for the postseason, keeping intact a streak that began after the 1998 season when they had only sophomores.
The seventh-seed in Quadrant 4, Monarch was without top running back and linebacker Philip Bubernak (sprained MCL), quarterback Zack Berohn (mild concussion), fullback/defensive lineman Jackson Stevens (dislocated elbow) and center Jack Peters (hyper-extended elbow). Standout kicker Patrick Nasiatka suffered a season-ending knee injury in the second game.
That made prospects rough against a No. 2 Regis Jesuit squad that demonstrated the pizzazz and technical proficiency of a No. 1. The Raiders (10-1) scored 21 points in each of the first two quarters and instituted a running clock midway for the third. Monarch has done that to many teams, but this was the first time since the turn of the century that it happened to the Coyotes.
“I have a lot of respect for those guys, because they just came out and ran it down our throats,” Monarch linebacker Kylor Johnson said. “They’re a good solid team, but our guys, we came out and fought hard to the end.”
Monarch scored its lone touchdown in the third quarter, a one-yard plunge by Chad Sloan that cut the deficit to 35-7.
Regis quarterback Matt Houghtaling threw four touchdown passes in the first half — three to tight ends — and Raiders running back Alec Barnes finished with 223 yards on 15 carries and scored once.
The Raiders reeled off their 10th straight since a season-opening loss to Cherry Creek and are widely considered a state contender. While Monarch was clearly outmanned, it was difficult for Bravo to be disappointed with the fight of his squad.
“I’m so proud of our kids with the effort they gave tonight,” Bravo said. “You saw the size of that offensive line. Our kids played hard and our coaches coached through the game. But I would have loved to face this team full strength.”
Monarch lost narrow decisions to Poudre, Fossil Ridge and Legacy this season, all games that were in the balance until the buzzer. If a few of those go the other way, or maybe even one, the Coyotes might not have had such a difficult draw.
“I don’t really look backwards because what happened did happen,” Johnson said. “Maybe that’s the way it was supposed to happen. But there were a lot of young guys who played well tonight.”
Among those was quarterback Stone MacIntyre, who appeared poised in his initial start and deftly operated the run-based offense. Freshman Ernesto Chavez got the start at running back, but didn’t find much room in accumulating 22 yards on 10 carries.
The midseason losses will eat at Bravo, but the circumstances that led to each were part of the “weird” season.
“A win’s a win and a loss is a loss, and we fell on the short end of grace this year on three different occasions,” Bravo said. “Then we got so banged up there at the end and we knew it was going to be a challenge.”
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Regis Jesuit 48, Monarch 7
At Regis Jesuit HS
Monarch (4-6) 0 7 0 0 — 7
Regis Jesuit (9-1) 21 21 6 0 — 48
Regis Jesuit — Conor Shea 8 pass from Matt Houghtaling (Daniel Naes kick). Regis Jesuit — Jack Stoll 7 pass from Houghtaling (Naes kick). Regis Jesuit — Emmanuel DeJesus 15 pass from Houghtaling (Naes kick).
Regis Jesuit — Chris Ramos 1 run (Naes kick). Regis Jesuit — Alec Barnes 9 run (Naes kick). Monarch — Chad Sloan 1 run (Trevor Elser kick). Regis Jesuit — Stoll 11 pass from Houghtaling (Naes kick).
Regis Jesuit — DeJesus 17 pass from Michael Pavlakovich (kick failed).
RUSHING — Monarch: Waddle 11-32, Sloan 13-30, Chavez 10-22, Stansbury 3-9, MacIntyre 1-0. Regis Jesuit: Barnes 15-223, Ramos 12-61, Houghtaling 4-21, Marien 2-19, Pavlakovich 2-11.
PASSING — Monarch: MacIntyre 4-9-0-40. Regis Jesuit: Houghtaling 10-14-0-115, Pavlakovich 3-5-0-39.
RECEIVING — Monarch: Oliver 2-26, Waddle 1-7, Paluch 1-7. Regis Jesuit: DeJesus 4-56, Stoll 4-48, Marien 2-20, Matt 1-11, Green 1-11, Shea 1-8.