When the Rampart football team learned it would face Monarch in the first round of the 2017 4A state playoffs, it was ready for a second chance.
"When we heard, the saliva just started drooling," said Rampart senior Jared Behm. "We wanted that rematch because we didn't play our best the first game (Week 3 14-7 loss), but now they know what we're about."
Rampart rolled to a 24-14 victory over Monarch to move on to the second round, earning the Rams the first playoff win that coach Rob Royer can remember.
The No. 8 Rams (9-2) will face top-seeded Pine Creek (10-1) in a hometown rivalry game Friday at D-20 Stadium at 7 p.m.
"It's such a big deal for these kids to come out and get that first playoff win in a while and you get a little extra motivation because your neighboring school up the street is your next-round opponent," Royer said. "And we'll see a little big extra effort on Monday and Tuesday and get ready for that game next week."
Rampart, which preaches a positive response to adversity, was thrown into the fire early Saturday on its home field after Monarch opened up with a 95-yard kickoff return on the opening kick. Alex Matsumoto found a hole on the far sideline and raced to the end zone to give the Coyotes a 7-0 lead in the first 12 seconds of play.
But Behm was ready.
On Rampart's first play from scrimmage after the Monarch touchdown, Behm exploded down the sideline for a 90-yard touchdown to tie the game in the first minute.
"All year long we've responded to adversity really well, and coming off that return, I have to give it up to the O-line, they really pumped us up and they told me you better run the ball hard, and I saw a lane and I took it," Behm said.
From there it was a dogfight.
Rampart quarterback Keion Cross found Behm in the end zone for a 10-yard score with five minutes remaining in the first quarter, but Monarch tied it up again with a 1-yard quarterback keep from CJ Schmanski in the second.
The Coyotes stuck to the inside and rushed the middle with some success, but Rampart's defensive line kept them out of the end zone.
"We've got some incredible kids up there who basically understood that they were going to be a sacrifice," Royer said. "Bryce Delaoy, Ryan Kintz, Cam White, Josh Gonzales and Marshal Ehrlin did a great job anchoring the middle and funneling stuff to the outside."
A 33-yard field goal by Jack Mcreynolds early in the fourth quarter looked like it would be Rampart's game-winner, as both defenses were solid in the second half.
But with five minutes left to play, Cross found a hole and went 41 yards to the house.
"He's a playmaker and he's become a really good football player," Royer said. "He understands how the offense is working and he took advantage of some of the things they were trying to do defensively and got his big run."