Seniors on the Monarch football can vividly remember when things werenâ€™t so rosy. It was only two falls ago, after all, that the Coyotes finished an uncharacteristic 2-8.
Fast-forward to 2017, and Monarch is back to its usual self, a vintage Phil Bravo-coached squad that stifles opposing offenses and mercilessly runs the ball down your throat.
Firmly settled back in their customary home in Class 4A, the Coyotes (5-0) enter the midway point of the season unscathed and set to enter Northern League play. Theyâ€™ll just happen to do so against another team that has had a magnificent start in fellow-unbeaten Skyline (7 p.m., Thursday, Warrior Stadium).
Cole Polluconi has been Monarchâ€™s primary back through much of the first half and has racked up a team-leading 442 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. But fellow senior Justin Kiss has been the hot hand lately, and churned for 81 yards and two scores last week in a 24-14 win against Broomfield.
Trey Storm and Keegan Feenstra have been pass-rush mavens for Monarch, which checks in at No. 7 in the latest CHSAANow.com poll, having combined for seven sacks and an additional 13 quarterback hurries. And senior Jack Kapushion has already registered four interceptions, including one last week against Broomfield signal-caller Steven Croell.
Skyline (5-0) has been putting up points in bunches and climbed to No. 10 this week. The Falcons havenâ€™t scored less than 44 in a game, but they havenâ€™t quite seen a defense like Monarchâ€™s yet. It will be compelling to see how well the Falconsâ€™ high-flying ways will stack up against a top-tier D.
Quarterback Nathan MacGregor has thrown for 10 touchdowns without an interception, and running back Jeremy Hollingsworth is already approaching 1,000 yards. Heâ€™s accumulated 871 on the ground and has already found the end zone a whopping 16 times. Kyle West has been most prominent in the receiving game, having caught 31 passes for 464 yards and five TDs.
Skyline played the Coyotes tough last year before ultimately falling 24-13. A win here would unquestionably signal the Falconsâ€™ arrival as a contender on the 4A circuit. Monarch, meanwhile, is aiming to keep steamrolling forward. While this Top 10 showdown qualifies as one of the best in the week in the classification, here are some others worth watching:
Loveland at Broomfield (7 p.m., Friday)
Speaking of steamrolling, that is what Loveland has continued to do. The No. 5 Indians (5-0) clobbered Mountain View 42-7 last week and their stingy defense has permitted only 28 points all season. While Trey Cardenas, Alex Seymour and company have wreaked havoc on that side of the ball, the Indiansâ€™ offense has done what it has pleased as well. Led by Zach Weinmaster, the rushing attack is averaging nearly a first down every time they touch the ball.
Broomfield will try to slow down that attack and resurrect their own season in the process in this Longs Peak League opener. The Eagles (2-3) have alternated losses and wins, and are due for a win after falling to Monarch. The Class 4A runner-up last season, Broomfield has yet to fully catch its groove this season, but the Eagles understand that they have been bestowed with the clean slate of league play and can turn things around in a hurry with a win here.
Vista Ridge at Montrose, 7 p.m., Friday
After two gut-wrenching one-point losses in the first three weeks, Montrose appears back on track. The Indians (3-2) have won their past two games by a combined 70-13 tally and enter the Pikes Peak League opener with a head of steam. Sam Collins added two more rushing touchdowns last week in a 35-6 home win against Grand Junction Central that was delayed by lightning.
Vista Ridge (3-2) got the rushing attack going last week in a 35-21 win against Discovery Canyon, a contest in which the Wolves outscored the Thunder 21-0 after intermission. Jeffrey Crittenden rushed for 220 yards, quarterback Jaylen Thomas added 183 and Vista Ridge piled up 440 on the ground overall.
Chatfield at Golden, 4 p.m., Friday
After its gigantic win against Columbine in Week 4, No. 2 Chatfield kept it rolling last week with a 38-6 trouncing of previously unbeaten Widefield. Ben Frenette rushed for 152 yards and the Chargers (4-1) led 28-0 at the break. Theyâ€™ll try to reinforce their status as the clear favorite of the Plains League by getting off to a solid start against Golden.
The Demons had fallen on hard times in recent seasons, including a 1-9 campaign in 2016. But theyâ€™ve started 4-1, having only lost their opener to No. 10 Skyline. Junior quarterback David Oâ€™Connell is among the state passing leaders, having already connected for 15 touchdowns (seven interceptions) while piling up 1,010 yards. Favorite target Joe Madsen has caught six of the scores.
Air Academy at Pueblo West, 7 p.m., Friday
Pueblo West enters Southern League play 5-0, and there is still some buzz surrounding the Cyclonesâ€™ dramatic 55-54 double-overtime win against Pueblo South in Week 3. The previous two weeks contained much less theatrics for the Cyclones who surrendered a combined 14 points in blowout wins. Devyn Morgan and Pierre Taylor have rushed for a combined 1,096 yards and 17 touchdowns in the opening five weeks for Pueblo West.
Air Academy (4-1) enters on a four-game winning streak, and the Kadets defense has not surrendered more than 14 points in any of the wins. Zach Martin has rushed for 551 yards and six touchdowns to pass the offensive attack.
Widefield at Mesa Ridge, 1 p.m., Saturday
Widefieldâ€™s undefeated start ended last week against Chatfield, but there isnâ€™t much shame in losing to a team many believe will contend for the title. Quarterback TJ Davis and his Gladiators (4-1) will look to get back on track this week in the Southern League opener.
Mesa Ridge (3-2) just put up 45 points in a win against Heritage last week behind an offense that has been clicking for most the season. Quarterback DJ King has passed for 10 touchdowns and running back John Hubbard-Johnson has added seven on the ground while averaging 114.2 rushing yards per contest.
Additional ranked teams in action this week include top-ranked Ponderosa vs. Liberty (7 p.m., Thursday), No. 3 Pine Creek at Pueblo Centennial (7 p.m., Thursday), No. 4 Windsor at Mountain View (7 p.m., Thursday), No. 8 Fruita Monument vs. Denver South (7 p.m., Friday) and No. 9 Pueblo South vs. Grand Junction Central (1 p.m., Saturday).