Submitted by Denair High School
Building upon last year’s unexpected successes will be the theme for the Denair High School football and cross country teams this fall, while the volleyball club will seek to create positive momentum of its own under the leadership of a new coach.
Here’s a quick overview of the Coyotes’ varsity teams, which swing into action Friday the first football game at Summerville and cross country meet in Lodi. The volleyball girls begin Monday with a non-league match at Turlock Christian.
The Coyotes were the biggest small-school surprise in the Sac-Joaquin Section last fall, overcoming long odds and a small roster to earn a spot in the Division VI playoffs. Despite suiting up as few as 14 or 15 players, Denair finished third in the Southern League and posted its first winning record (6-5) in years.
The 2016 Coyotes will long be remembered as the young men and their coaches who restored pride and confidence in the program.
“These are the guys who jump started our program,” coach Anthony Armas said after the season. “I think what we were able to do despite our numbers … to get people excited again about the program, that’s going to be their legacy.”
Armas began practice this season with 22 players on his varsity squad, which has only five returning starters from a year ago. Adding depth is a talented group of juniors and sophomores who are used to winning – they were unbeaten last year at the JV level.
Among the seniors are three two-way players who will add experience and muscle to the line – Blake Davis (tight end/outside linebacker), Dylan Mann (tight end/defensive end) and Bryson Prock (center/defensive line).
Armas expects good things from his younger players, many of whom gained some varsity experience late last season and in the playoff loss to Amador.
Among the top juniors are three expected to start in the offensive backfield: Drew Pritchard (quarterback/free safety), Steffin Winston (running back/strong safety) and Hunter Musgrave (running back/cornerback).
Sophomores expected to get plenty of playing time include Elvis Silva (quarterback/cornerback), Dylan De Silva (running back/outside linebacker), Zack Cherry (offensive and defensive line), Carlo Morales (offensive line/linebacker), Derek Starkey (offensive and defensive line) and Will Knox (offensive line/linebacker).
“We have a great group of hard-working, coachable young men,” said Armas, a Denair High graduate now in his third year as head coach. “Many of our players have bought into our program and we believe it will show on the field.”
Asked about the teams to beat in the Southern League, Armas said simply, “Everyone.”
He said the goal for this year’s team is to “continue to elevate our program like the previous teams did before them.”
2017 Denair Football Schedule
|Fri., Aug. 25||Summerville||Summerville||7 p.m.|
|Sat, Sept. 9||Millennium||Tracy||7:30 p.m.|
|Fri., Sept. 15||Stone Ridge Christian||Denair||7 p.m.|
|Fri., Sept. 22||Gustine *||Denair||7:30 p.m.|
|Fri., Sept. 29||Le Grand *||Denair||7:30 p.m.|
|Fri., Oct. 6||Ripon Christian *||Ripon||7:30 p.m.|
|Fri., Oct. 13||Orestimba *||Denair||7:30 p.m.|
|Fri., Oct. 20||Delhi *||Delhi||7:30 p.m.|
|Fri., Oct. 27||Mariposa *||Denair||7:30 p.m.|
|Fri., Nov. 3||Waterford *||Waterford||7:30 p.m.|
*Southern League game
Christy North brings a wealth of coaching experience from a much larger setting – 10 years heading the boys volleyball team at Carson High in Los Angeles – to Denair. She had a chance to meet many of her players over the summer and is impressed by their enthusiasm and commitment to improve.
“It has been wonderful getting to know the girls and seeing their personal drive combined with their sense of team,” North said. “They have respect for the game, and take the work seriously without taking themselves too seriously.”
She is counting on seniors Madison Snider (setter), Alexandria Sanders (outside hitter) and Cierra Rodriguez (libero/defensive specialist) to provide strong play and leadership to a relatively young team. She also has high hopes for juniors Adrianna Snyder (setter) and Cheyenne Souza (outside hitter).
“The team is well-bonded, with a drive to show that they have improved from last year, and are ready to compete at the level of all teams in their league,” North said. “Smart hitters and a focused defense should prove valuable for us.”
She believes traditional power Ripon Christian is likely the team to beat in the Southern League, but feels strongly that the Coyotes “can achieve a .500 season.”
2017 Denair volleyball schedule
|Mon., Aug. 28||Turlock Christian||Turlock||7 p.m.|
|Mon., Sept. 11||Waterford *||Waterford||6:30 p.m.|
|Wed., Sept. 13||Orestimba *||Denair||6:30 p.m.|
|Thurs., Sept. 14||Mariposa *||Mariposa||6:30 p.m.|
|Mon., Sept. 18||Ripon Christian *||Ripon||6:30 p.m.|
|Mon., Sept. 25||Le Grand *||Le Grand||6:30 p.m.|
|Wed., Sept. 27||Delhi *||Delhi||6:30 p.m.|
|Mon., Oct. 2||Gustine *||Gustine||6:30 p.m.|
|Wed., Oct. 4||Waterford *||Denair||6:30 p.m.|
|Mon., Oct. 9||Orestimba *||Newman||6:30 p.m.|
|Thurs., Oct. 12||Ripon Christian||Denair||6:30 p.m.|
|Mon., Oct. 16||Mariposa *||Denair||6:30 p.m.|
|Wed., Oct. 16||Le Grand *||Denair||6:30 p.m.|
|Mon., Oct. 23||Delhi *||Denair||6:30 p.m.|
|Wed., Oct. 25||Gustine *||Denair||6:30 p.m.|
*Southern League match
The Coyotes had two runners medal at last fall’s Sac-Joaquin Section Meet. Not bad for a team in its very first year of competition. And though neither of those athletes decided to return, coach Matthew Groom expects more success this season, despite having just five runners on his team.
Leading the charge is senior Alex Flora and sophomore Johnny Ibarra, both of whom gained valuable experience last year on the various valley and foothill courses they will face again this fall. The top newcomer is freshman Pablo Flores.
Groom said the team’s strength is its “strong work ethic” and ability to quickly improve.
“I expect us to compete for our league title and two or three of them to make the Section Meet again,” he said.
2017 Denair cross country schedule
|Fri., Aug. 25||Lodi Flame Invitation||Lodi Lake (Lodi)|
|Thurs., Sept. 7||Southern League Meet #1||Tuolumne River Regional Park (Modesto)|
|Sat., Sept. 9||Denair Farm & Family Festival||Denair|
|Sat., Sept. 16||Frogtown Invitational||Calaveras County Fairgrounds (Angels Camp)|
|Sat., Sept. 23||Pacific Tiger Invitational||Elkhorn Golf Course (Stockton)|
|Thurs., Sept. 28||Southern League Meet #2||Tuolumne River Regional Park (Modesto)|
|Wed., Oct. 4||Escalon/Woodward Invitational||Woodward Reservoir (Oakdale)|
|Sat., Oct. 14||Hughson Invitational||Hughson High School|
|Thurs., Oct. 26||Southern League Final||Tuolumne River Regional Park (Modesto)|
|Sat., Nov. 4||Sac-Joaquin Sub-Section Meet||Calaveras County Fairgrounds (Angels Camp)|
|Fri., Nov. 10||Sac-Joaquin Section Meet||Willow Hills Reservoir (Folsom)|