LOVELAND — The Loveland Indians and Monarch Coyotes played an old-school battle of two teams looking to hit each other hard and prove who was more physical. To add to the battle, the two teams played in temperatures in the teens and a light snow falling in the first half.
Winning the physical matchup was Loveland (4-2, 1-0) with a 28-7 win over Monarch (2-4, 0-1) at Ray Patterson Field on Thursday.
“We had this game circled,” Loveland coach Jeff Mauck said. “We understand that conference play means everything. Three years ago, we were kicked out of the playoffs because we didn’t win our conference, so we understand the importance of it.”
Loveland struck first in the second quarter with Jadyn Tafoya breaking the goal line on a two-yard plunge up the middle that completed a 14-play, 68-yard drive. After getting a stop, the Indians drove 67 yards on their next offensive drive in 10 plays and saw quarterback Zach Rakowsky score on a five-yard run.
With only seven possessions total in the first half, Loveland would outgain Monarch 177-56 and dominated time of possession.
“We were definitely the more physical team and the more physical team will definitely win every time,” Loveland’s Ian Loomis said after leading the Indians with eight tackles.
Monarch was able to sustain some drives in the first half but struggled with penalties and putting the ball on the ground with bad snaps, tosses and center exchanges, as well as penalties that halted momentum.
Even with the play in the first half, Monarch was down just 14-0. The Coyotes got a lift on the first play of the third quarter when Keiran Singh broke free up the right sideline for a 58-yard touchdown run that swung the momentum in their favor. A stop and lengthy drive from Coyotes would follow the score.
“We did well at times,” Monarch coach Phil Bravo said. “I thought we came out in the second half and did a little better. We made some adjustments at halftime.”
Monarch would keep it close in the second half, but Loveland continued to pound the football with its run game and returned to form on defense after the touchdown run to finish the game.
Rakowsky rushed for two more touchdowns near the goal line in the fourth quarter on drives that followed an interception and fourth-down stop from the defense. The quarterback finished with 134 of the team’s 277 rushing yards, continuing a successful string of games running the ball of late.
“Our run game over the last three weeks, we’ve got it clicking,” Mauck said. “We’ve got some guys coming back which is helping. This is a young group, so we’re building. As the season is going on, I think we’re going to get better.”
On the other side, Loveland held Monarch to 44 yards of offense after surrendering the long touchdown run.
“I think (Loveland) wore us down up front,” Bravo said. “We couldn’t control the clock in the second half like we wanted to… We moved the ball a little, but a holding play and fumbled snaps hurt us.”
Longs Peak Conference play continues for both teams with Loveland traveling to face Fort Collins and Monarch hosting Skyline in games played on Oct. 18.