Winning never gets old and Denair – even after earning its first-ever state championship in football last year – certainly isn’t in a position to take any victory for granted.
So Friday’s methodical and workmanlike 21-8 win over Delhi was satisfying in a different way for the Coyotes, who have shown a tendency at times to play down to the level of the competition.
Delhi, which hasn’t won a game this year, presented that kind of challenge. Denair clearly was the better team. But to the Hawks’ credit, they devised a game plan intended to keep the ball away from the Coyotes as much as they could and bleed the clock on every position.
Instead of becoming frustrated, Denair dug in on defense, holding Delhi scoreless in the first half while grinding its way to a 14-0 lead behind two touchdown runs from Jorge Yanez.
Even when Delhi opened the third quarter with a long drive that resulted in its only score, Armas wasn’t worried. He still believed his players were in control of the game. He didn’t think Delhi could score again on his defense and he was confident in his offense.
That faith was validated when Dylan De Silva scored in a short run in the fourth quarter, giving Denair all the points it would need.
“Delhi ate up a lot of the clock with that one long drive,” Armas said. “They executed their game plan really well. At the same time, we knew they were just trying to keep the score close. We knew they couldn’t beat us playing that way.”
The victory allowed Denair (6-2 overall, 4-1 in the Southern League) to remain firmly in control of its playoff destiny. The Coyotes have two regular-season games remaining – this week at home against Mariposa and Nov. 1 at Waterford. Two more victories likely would earn them a No. 1 seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII playoff bracket.
“We don’t really talk about the playoffs, but the kids and the coaches know that every game sets up the playoff seedings,” Armas said.
As it stands today, Denair is ranked third behind Southern League powerhouse Ripon Christian (7-1, 5-0) and likely Sierra Delta League champion Golden Sierra (6-2, 3-0). But Armas also knows that Denair won’t see either in the playoffs because, as league champions, they would be played in the Division VI bracket.
A top seed in the playoffs would earn the Coyotes at least two games at home, where they are 4-0 this season.
JV score: Delhi 14, Denair 0. The Coyotes are 1-7 overall and 0-5 in the Southern League.This week: The Coyotes host Mariposa (5-3, 4-1), the team they are tied with for second place in the Southern League. The Grizzlies are coming off a humbling 48-0 loss at home to Ripon Christian. By comparison, RC defeated Denair 28-7 in Ripon on Sept. 27. … “We all kind of figured Ripon Christian was going to win the whole thing. They’re really good,” Armas said. … Mariposa will present some challenges, however. The Grizzlies have won three of their four road games this fall, so Denair will have to play its best to defend its turf at Jack Lytton Stadium. “They like to spread the ball out on offense. They’ve got a good quarterback and running back,” Armas said. “On defense, they like to stack the box and try to stop the run. We’ve had some good games against them. We’re pretty evenly matched.”