Denair coach calls victory over Orestimba ‘best game of the season’

Friday’s dominant 28-13 Southern League victory over Orestimba was the game Denair football Coach Anthony Armas and his coaching staff had been waiting for this season. It was the first time when all facets of the Coyotes’ attack – offense, defense and special teams – came together in a way the coaches imagine as they draw up plays and schemes each week.

“We played well in every aspect of the game,” praised Armas. “We limited our mistakes. The kids really executed everything well.” 

Surprisingly, Armas said he and his staff were uncertain before the game how the Coyotes would come out.

“We were a little nervous because the guys were so quiet,” Armas said. “But that’s the personality of this senior group. They’ pretty quiet. They’ve been that way their whole careers.”

Any doubts were quickly erased as Denair raced to a 21-6 halftime lead behind an offensive line that consistently opened huge holes in Orestimba’s defense that Dylan De Silva, Damien Peral and Jorge Yanez turned into big chunks of yardage.

“We didn’t run a big variety of plays because they were blocking so well,” Armas said of his linemen.

In fact, quarterback Elvis Silva only attempted two passes, though one of them went for a short touchdown to Jacob Lewellen. 

As usual, De Silva led the way on the ground, punishing the Warriors for 140 yards and two more TDs, raising his season total to 14. All that despite missing some time after he tweaked his ankle.

“He’s a workhorse,” praised Armas. “When we get close to the goal line, he’s going to get the ball.”

Peral, who also was sidelined temporarily with a shoulder injury, had his best game of the season, churning out 118 yards. Not included was an 84-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that was called back because of a holding penalty.

Yanez added 55 yards and a short TD run before dinging his knee. At one point in the fourth quarter, De Silva, Peral and Yanez were all on the bench nursing injuries, forcing Denair to turn to its reserves.

Armas said he spoke to all three players over the weekend and they reported they were feeling better. He expects them to play this week against Delhi.

JV score: Orestimba 44, Denair 0. The Coyotes are 1-6 overall and 0-4 in the Southern League.
This week: Friday’s victory allowed Denair (5-2 overall, 3-1 Southern League) to keep pace with Ripon Christian (6-1, 4-0) and Mariposa (5-2, 4-0) in the league standings. Those two teams play this week in Mariposa. If the Grizzlies can knock off the Knights – who handed Denair its only league loss three weeks ago – that would set up a chance for a three-way tie for the SL title. Denair hosts Mariposa on Oct. 25. The Coyotes are 4-0 at Jack Lytton Stadium this year. … Denair goes on the road itself this week to face Delhi (0-7, 0-4), one of its two closest geographic rivals along with Waterford. “We have a tendency to play down to our competition sometimes, so we really want to focus this week on what we do well,” Armas said. “Delhi runs three different kinds of offenses, so we really need to pay attention to our assignments on defense when they’re in different formations.”

Denair could reap substantial savings on utility costs by investing in upgraded systems for AC, water, lighting

The Denair Unified School District spends nearly $400,000 a year on utilities – electricity, water and sewer service. A comprehensive project to upgrade lighting, air conditioning and heating, reduce water use and leverage technology to make everything run more efficiently was discussed at Thursday night’s board meeting.

Initial estimates indicate that the systems could reduce Denair’s utility bills by 30% a year – roughly $120,000 – offsetting the cost of the $2.5 million project over the next 15 years.

Projects would touch every campus in the district:

  • A new heating and cooling system in the Denair High gymnasium
  • Replacing the aged heating and cooling units at Denair Elementary Charter Academy
  • Installing HVAC sensors at each school, allowing staff to better control temperatures and save money
  • Installing new energy efficient LED lighting at Denair Middle School, the football stadium and outdoors across the district to cut costs by 50%
  • Installing advanced irrigation control systems districtwide and sports field sprinklers at DHS

Earlier this year, the district formally partnered with Climatec on the project. Two representatives from the company outlined the district’s needs as well as proposed solutions Thursday night. The board took no action. That could come at its November meeting, when a final financing plan will be presented.

Linda Covello, Denair’s chief business official, is working on ways to pay for the estimated $2,467,197 project. She said the district expects to contribute $500,000 (paid for by DMS bond money) and use what is known as a municipal lease to finance the rest.

The first lease payment of roughly $120,000 would not be due for 12 to 18 months, Covello said. It would be paid for by the anticipated savings from lower utility costs during that time. Future annual payments over the life of the 15-year lease also would be funded by utility savings.

If the district qualifies for any rebates for installing the new systems, it will pursue them, trustees were told.

If trustees approve a contract next month, work could begin soon after. The Climatec officials said most of the work would occur on nights and weekends so as not to disrupt classes.

In other action Thursday, the board:

  • Heard a report about Project Life, a program for 17 special education students at the high school that involves teaching them critical life skills in a comprehensive effort to help them land jobs. The program was initiated last year and is now led by teacher Renee Hall. It is responsible for the Coyote Coffee Cart, staffed by special education students. It also has partnered with employers to place six students in workplaces in the community.
  • Listened as Superintendent Terry Metzger outlined her plans for teacher training focused on three key areas: clear, coherent curriculum; authentic literacy; and soundly structured instruction. “It’s a multi-year plan,” Metzger explained. “If we can filter everything through those areas, we can see student achievement improve and change.”
  • Unanimously approved creation of the First Priority Club at the high school. It is intended to help students develop skills such as leadership, integrity, character, teamwork, time-management, event planning and public speaking through faith-based principles. Students of all beliefs will be welcomed. Weekly discussions will be based on a format called HOPE (Help, Overcome, Prepare, Engage).
  • Voted 5-0 to ratify a salary range adjustment for 15 non-teaching employees. The decision fulfills a promise first made in 2007-08, but frozen when the district faced financial difficulties two years later. It will cost the district $29,000, paid for out reserves carried over from last year.
  • Smiled when Covello reported that overall enrollment has grown to 1,307 students, four more than anticipated in this year’s budget.
  • Listened to an update on the number of students considered to be English Learners in the district. Coordinator Maria Olivas said there are 223 — 141 at DECA, 41 at the middle school, 18 at Denair High and 23 at Denair Charter Academy. Of that total, 15 are considered to be “newcomers” (students who have attended U.S. schools for six months or less).

Preparing for the Future: Dual Language Immersion

About 20 interested parents and staff members met Wednesday night for an initial meeting to discuss how students from Denair Elementary Charter Academy’s popular Dual Language Immersion program will transition to Denair Middle School in two years.

The first class of students in DECA’s dual language program is currently in fourth grade, but it’s not too early to begin thinking about and planning for a smooth transition for these students when they enter middle school in August 2021.

DECA Principal Kelly Beard and Learning Director Laura Cardenas kicked off the meeting with a short presentation of the three pillars of dual language immersion and how they are addressed at DECA. The three pillars are biliteracy, bilingualism and cross-cultural competence. The pair also described the “90-10” model, in which students start their educational career with 90% in Spanish and 10% in English. The percentages shift each year until fourth grade, when instruction is 50% Spanish and 50% English.

DUSD English Learner Coordinator Maria Olivas described for parents and staff the requirements for the State Seal of Biliteracy, which is awarded to high school seniors upon graduation if they meet the criteria set forth by the State of California.

Superintendent Terry Metzger stated that the district’s goal is for every student enrolled in the dual language program to earn their Seal of Biliteracy. Based on this goal, it’s important that the district carefully plan what a secondary dual language program will look like. Students will need to build and sustain their academic language in Spanish and English in order to show the high level of proficiency required for the Seal.

The audience members heard several ideas about how the dual language program could be implemented at the middle school level. Many participants expressed interest in hearing/seeing how dual language programs are integrated in other local districts. The district already has begun discussions with nearby districts and plans to take a committee of parents and staff to conduct some school visits this year.

District Trustee Kathi Dunham-Filson assured parents that the school board is committed to the vision of providing a dual language program that prepares students to be fully bilingual, biliterate and culturally competent. This includes ensuring that students in the K-5 program have a strong 6-8 program to further build their skills.

Dr. Metzger indicated that there is much work to do over the next two years, including programming, scheduling, examining and ordering materials, and hiring staff. She invited parents to join staff in the process and asked those interested to provide their contact information.

A follow-up meeting to report progress on this transition is planned for the spring.

Denair returns to winning ways against Gustine

Denair football Coach Anthony Armas said he enjoyed this year’s Homecoming festivities more than he can ever remember. He was caught up in the enthusiasm and community spirit of the rally and parade on Friday, and was proud that the students in his math intervention class won one of the dress up day contests earlier in the week.

Friday’s dominant 35-7 victory over Gustine only added to Armas’ enjoyment, allowing his team to shake off the memory of their loss the week before against first-place Ripon Christian.

“It was just a fun week,” Armas said.

Another way to get Armas to smile is to mention fullback Dylan De Silva, who has set the tone on offense all season. The senior was at it again against Gustine, running for three touchdowns to raise his season total to 12 (11 rushing and one receiving).

It is the third time this year De Silva has scored three TDs in a game.

“He’s just a special athlete,” Armas praised. “He’s fast and he’s shifty. He plays fullback, so he makes a lot of cuts in tight spaces. That’s not something you can teach. He’s just a naturally athletic kid.”

Armas credited Denair’s offensive linemen for opening enough holes for De Silva to squirt through. They did it despite having a size disadvantage against Gustine.

“We tried to go fast. We wanted to speed up the tempo to wear them down and so they couldn’t substitute,” Armas said.

As has been the case most of the season, that strategy worked. Denair led 14-0 at halftime, 28-7 after three quarters and coasted to victory.

The Coyotes (4-2 overall, 1-1 Southern League) mostly avoided the turnovers and penalties that have frustrated them this season. They did lose a fumble late in the first half that stopped a scoring chance, but played much better against the Reds (1-5, 1-2).

“We’re definitely heading in the right direction,” Armas said.

While De Silva was the unquestioned leader on the offense, Armas also was pleased with his defense. He singled out junior nose guard Drake Francis for causing havoc to Gustine’s offense.

“He really got after it,” Armas said. “He was very aggressive and they their center a lot of trouble. He was getting pressure up the middle on their quarterback.”

JV score: Gustine 21, Denair 20. The Coyotes are 1-5 overall and 0-3 in the Southern League.

This week: Denair hosts longtime rival Orestimba this week at Jack Lytton Stadium. The Warriors (3-3 1-2) were shut out 35-0 by Ripon Christian last week, but Armas still has plenty of respect for them. “They’re still pretty good. They beat a Hughson team that’s doing well in the Trans-Valley League. They’re definitely used to winning.” … With four regular-season games remaining, Armas said it’s too early to begin thinking about a third straight trip to the playoffs. “It’s one game at a time for us. … We’ve got to continue to think about ball security on offense and cutting down on penalties and mistakes. That’s what we harp on in practice.”

Denair Wears Down in 28-7 Loss to Ripon Christian

To defeat Ripon Christian on Friday night, Denair football Coach Anthony Armas assumed his team would have “to play a perfect game.” The Knights were bigger at many positions and their depth meant fewer players had to play the entire game on offense and defense, a distinct edge against the Coyotes, whose best players rarely come off the field.

Those size and number advantages paid dividends the longer the hard-fought game went on. RC stretched its 7-0 lead at halftime to 14-0 after three quarters and then tacked on two more touchdowns in the final period on its way to a 28-7 victory over Denair in a showdown of the Southern League’s top two teams.

“Our defense played well for 2½ quarters. They just got worn down while they (the Knights) were rotating kids in,” said Armas, referring to RC’s depth.

Denair didn’t score until the fourth quarter, when Dylan De Silva ran 9 yards for a touchdown. The Coyotes wasted a good scoring opportunity in the first half when they fumbled inside RC’s 20-yard line. And as happened in previous weeks, a few ill-timed penalties stopped other drives before they could turn into points.

Denair also didn’t take advantage of an interception and a muffed punt by Ripon Christian.

“Our effort was great. They played their tails off,” Armas said of his team. “This is by far the toughest team we’ll play.”

Armas was especially pleased with three players asked to take on different roles because a teammate had been suspended for one game. Junior Derek Coleman, normally a guard, slid over to play tackle because senior Derek Starkey had to play tight end. On defense, junior Jose Lopez had a strong game at linebacker.

“Those guys really stepped up,” Armas praised.

It was the second year in a row that Ripon Christian (4-1 overall, 2-0 in the SL) handed Denair its first league loss. A season ago, that was the only blemish on Denair’s record as it marched to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII championship and eventually the state title. With five league games remaining, the Coyotes still are very much in control of their destiny as they seek a return trip to the playoffs.

JV score: Ripon Christian 33, Denair 0. The Coyotes are 1-4 overall and 0-2 in the Southern League.This week: The Coyotes (3-2, 1-1) will celebrate homecoming Friday night at Jack Lytton Stadium by hosting Gustine (1-4, 1-1), which lost to Mariposa 31-0 last week. “It’s a good Southern League rivalry,” Armas said. “I’m sure they’ll come in here ready to go.” … Last season, Denair beat Gustine twice, the second time coming in the Section Division VII semifinals. … Armas said he enjoys all the activity surrounding homecoming week, including the parade and floats on Friday, but that “this is really just another week. We’ve got to focus on what we can control and we’ll be all right.”