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.”