FOOTBALL: 4A CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW
Patience on defense could be the key for Denver South on Saturday if they wish to claim their first state championship since 1958. The Rebels have a very talented offense that can score points in bunches but their defense will have to find a way to get off the field against the power running game and ball control offense of Monarch. The Coyotes are in the finals for the third time in their short history and seeking their first crown since 2002 when they outscored Golden 42-35.
Monarch knocked off top seeded Pueblo West 14-6 in the semifinals last week scoring the game winning touchdown late in the fourth on the end of a 23-play drive that left the Cyclones with little time to respond. Grinding it out three to four yards at a time is the M-O for the Monarch program as they simply try to shorten the game and limit the number of offensive chances for the opponent. Denver South must prevent them from putting together similar drives in the championship game this weekend. If not, their talented offense will be left on the sideline with few chances. If that happens, the offense will also need to show patience and not try to score a touchdown on every play.
Slowing down Monarch starts along the line of scrimmage and the Rebels defense features a very talented front four that controlled the line of scrimmage against Mesa Ridge in South’s semifinal win last week. Defensive ends Samuel Mabany and Taylor Williams join massive defensive tackles Darian Mion and AJ Harris to from the front wall that will play an important role on Saturday. The defensive front will be hurt by the loss of Darian Mion who was ejected late in the game against Mesa Ridge so he will be forced to sit out the state championship game. The front wall is backed up by linebackers Johnny Coleman, Zach Lindsay and Shaquille Moore. That trio runs sideline to sideline very well but will need to be physical against a Monarch team that prefers to run between the tackles.
Monarch’s offense is led by Ethan Marks. The senior ran the ball 41 times against Pueblo West including 18 carries in the final game winning drive. He finished the day with 164 yards and scored both touchdowns. On the season, Marks has totaled 1,789 yards which is about 48 percent of the team’s running game. Logan Soole and Philip Bubernak each have 477 yards on the ground this season and the duo provides depth in the backfield.
Overall, the Coyotes have run the ball at least 50 times in six of 13 games this year including four of the last five. They’ve been over 200 yards in 11 games missing against Falcon (174) and last week against Pueblo West (196). As a team, the Coyotes average six yards a carry and if they reach that amount on Saturday, they’ll likely hoist the Gold Ball for a second time. Monarch has attempted more than three passes only three times this season but QB Cole Watson has tossed seven touchdowns in just 22 completions so the Coyotes could also turn in a big play in the passing game when the South defense creeps up a bit too much.
Skill wise, Denver South has the talent to match almost any team in any class. Malik Tollerson is very good throwing the football from the pocket and has three excellent targets in Kerrian Chambers, Orlando Mosley and tight end Metise Moore. Pete Williams leads the team in rushing after taking over for injured Philip Lindsay earlier in the season but he too went down an injury against Mesa Ridge. That led to a huge game from huge sophomore Trevonte Tasco who ran for 188 yards on 19 carries against the Grizzlies. He also scored twice.
Monarch has beaten Falcon (24-14), Vista Ridge (28-21) and Pueblo West (14-6) to reach the third final in school history and their first appearance since falling to Pueblo West in 2007. This is their first ever playoff meeting with Denver South. The Rebels have downed Standley Lake (26-21), Wheat Ridge (27-14) and Mesa Ridge (38-22) for a berth in the state championship game. The program had just five playoff wins in school history before this year and the victory against Standley Lake in round one was their first win since 1973. They’re 1-1 in state finals with both previous games against Pueblo Central and both ended up 7-6. South beat Central in 1958 but lost to the Wildcats in 1947.
Coverage of the state championship game on Saturday is available on ROOT Sports TV and online at www.chsaa.tv. 850 KOA will also provide radio coverage of the contest with kickoff set for 11:00am at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.