Submitted by Denair High School:
It has become a tradition in the past few years. After the final regular-season football game, Denair’s coaches and players gather at school on the following Sunday afternoon to hear the playoff pairings and find out together who they will be playing.
The Coyotes didn’t have to wait long Sunday.
They were the very first team announced, earning a coveted No. 1 seed and a first-round bye in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII bracket. Denair’s next game will be at home on Friday, Nov. 15 against the winner of this week’s game between Le Grand and Big Valley Christian of Modesto.
The top seed wasn’t really a surprise for Denair (8-2), which again finished second in the Southern League behind champion Ripon Christian, which was placed in the Division VI bracket. It is the same seeding the Coyotes had last year, when they marched to the Division VII state championship.
“We’re excited about getting a bye because we’re always dinged up this time of year,” said Denair Coach Anthony Armas, whose squad overcame a couple of early scores by Waterford to beat the Wildcats 34-21 Friday night behind four touchdowns by Jorge Yanez.
The time off will allow Denair’s players to recharge and heal. No injury is more important than the left ankle of fullback Dylan De Silva. He sprained it two weeks ago against Delhi and sat out against Waterford, but is expected to be ready when the playoffs begin.
“It’s a good thing for us to have a break. I think some of our kids are getting a little burned out,” Armas said.
The Coyotes will practice Monday and Tuesday before taking the rest of this week off.
Armas said some of his coaches and players may go to the Le Grand-Big Valley Christian game on Friday, but he prefers to scout by watching film.
LeGrand (5-5) finished fourth in the Southern League, including a 20-12 loss to Denair on Sept. 20. Big Valley Christian (6-4) was the Central California Athletic Alliance champion.
The other side of the Division VII bracket includes Southern League rival and No. 2 seed Mariposa (6-4), which also has a bye this week. The Grizzlies will host the winner of Friday’s game between Woodland Christian (8-2) and Vacaville Christian (6-4).
Denair defeated Mariposa 14-13 on Oct. 25 and Woodland Christian 34-7 on Aug. 30.
Against Waterford on Friday, Denair fell behind 14-7 early thanks to a couple of long plays by the Wildcats, but rallied behind Yanez to lead 21-14 at halftime. The Coyotes stretched their lead in the third quarter and controlled the clock late in the game.
The result earned them a much-needed break this week as they prepare to defend their state title.JV score: Waterford 35, Denair 0. The Coyotes finished 1-9 overall and 0-7 in the Southern League.