Cross Country Runners Hoping to Gain Momentum

Submitted by Denair High School

The Denair High School cross country team will look to rebound from a slow start in the coming weeks.

The Coyotes finished sixth Thursday in the first of two Southern League meets at Tuolumne River Regional Park in Modesto.

Denair’s team score of 128 (based on the cumulative total of where the five fastest runners finished in the race) left it well behind Waterford (30 points), Orestimba (48), Delhi (56) and Ripon Christian (94).

Senior Uriel Gonzalez (22 minutes, 58 seconds) and sophomore Pablo Flores (22:03) finished back-to-back in 21st and 22nd places, respectively. Juniors Brigg Wenstrand (26:13, 35th), Ramiro Diaz (26:16, 36th), Alex de la Torre (28:49, 38th) and Johnny Ibarra (28:50, 39th) also competed on the relatively flat 5K course.

Coach Matthew Groom takes responsibility for the results, but he has an understandable explanation – he just returned to school after taking time off around the birth of his son. As a result, practices, training, and participation were sporadic in the past month.

“We will work hard for the next league meet at the end of the month,” Groom promised. “I would like to get our points down to around 115 at our next meet and I hope we can break 100 points at the league finals (in late October).”

Groom credits Gonzalez, the team captain, for setting the right example during practice.

“He has shown great leadership,” the coach said. “He has worked hard every day in practice and will continue to improve on the year.”

Groom expects Flores to challenge Gonzalez as the team’s top runner this fall. That makes sense. As a freshman last year, Flores won the Sac-Joaquin Section title for his class. He will run varsity races during the regular season, but race against only sophomores in the postseason.

“I have high expectations for Pablo,” Groom said.

Wenstrand and Ibarra are veterans of last year’s team, while de la Torre and Diaz are new to cross country. Both are veterans of the soccer team in the winter; Diaz also competes in track in the spring.

“This was his first 5k and he beat some runners who have been doing this for a few years,” Groom said of Diaz. “He has a sprinting background and he is an excellent runner in the 100 and 200 for track.  I am excited about his potential, and looking forward to how good he will be when he gets more practice with running distance.”


Linemen Pave the Way for Running Backs to Shine as Unbeaten Denair Pounds Millennium 56-18

Submitted by Denair High School

Running backs get all the glory. Offensive linemen get all the bruises.

That’s a bit of an oversimplification, but there are kernels of truth as well … as only a former offensive lineman like Anthony Armas can appreciate.

Asked to assess his team’s dominant 56-18 victory over Millennium on Friday at Jack Lytton Stadium, the Denair football coach first mentioned running backs Dylan De Silva and Steffin Winston, who combined for 344 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.

But Armas quickly pivoted to the play of the Coyotes’ often anonymous linemen, who consistently blew open holes in the Falcons’ defense, allowing Denair to average of a gaudy 13.2 yards per carry (41 rushes, 542 yards).

“That’s a high number,” Armas deadpanned before singling out guards Carlo Morales, a junior, and Hayden Haile, a senior, for particularly strong games.

“They’re our most active linemen,” Armas said. “They do a lot of pulling.”

Morales, Haile, and their teammates had their way with Millennium (0-2), allowing Denair (2-0) to race out to a 35-6 lead at halftime.

“I thought we played really well offensively,” said Armas, whose squad was coming off a bye week after opening with a 32-0 whitewash of Woodland Christian two weeks ago. “The things we needed to fix on offense, we fixed.”

De Silva piled up 175 yards on just 11 carries, scoring twice. Winston was even more efficient, needing just eight carries to gain 169 yards. Included were two TDS – one a 94-yard sprint – plus a 24-yard scoring reception.

Armas was less enthused by his defense, which allowed two touchdowns in the third quarter and three for the game.

“Generally, with how we run our defense, our linebackers and linemen need to get a read (on the opponents’ players,” he said. “We’re still not reacting the way we need to.”

Denair will have this week to correct those problems before hitting the road for the first time Friday night. The Coyotes take on Stone Ridge Christian (2-1) of Merced, though the game will be played at the old Castle Air Force Base site in Atwater.

“They’re good-sized,” Armas said of the Knights. “They can be very physical.”

JV Game: Denair and Millennium tied, 14-14.

Denair Unified Community Input Sessions

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

You’re invited to two community input sessions being held in the Denair Unified School District, Board Room Leadership Center located at 3460 Lester Road from 6-7pm on September 4th and September 6th, 2018.

Please visit for an invitation from Denair Superintendent, Dr. Terry Metzger.

We look forward to seeing you at either or both community sessions!

After a Week Off, Denair Football Team Back in Action

Submitted by Denair High School

For the second year in a row, Denair played a football game … and then immediately had a bye week.

Especially this season – coming off a dominant 32-0 shutout of Woodland Christian – it might have been nice to build on that momentum.

Coach Anthony Armas said he saw evidence of a slight emotional letdown last week in practice, saying it “was hard to get the kids dialed in” without a game to look forward to last Friday.

Such is not the case this week. The Coyotes will host Millennium of Tracy on Friday at Jack Lytton Field. Kickoff is at 7:15 p.m.

Armas said the extra time off has allowed him and his coaching staff to focus on the basics on offense and defense, but it hasn’t necessarily been a good thing for all his players, at least physically.

“We’re dealing with a lot of bumps and bruises,” said Armas, who doesn’t have the luxury of depth with a 25-man roster. Most of his best players line up on both sides of the ball.

Millennium (0-2) just may be the perfect opponent in such a situation. The Falcons have lost by identical 49-6 scores to Ripon Christian and Rio Vista the past two weeks.

“They’ve had a tough time,” said Armas, who nonetheless remembers a year ago when Denair had all it could handle before beating Millennium 27-24 in Tracy.

Armas is optimistic that his offense will click like it did against Woodland Christian when Steffin Winston scored three touchdowns and piled up 121 yards on the ground and Drew Pritchard raced 91 yards for another touchdown.

“I got to work with a lot of our backfield kids in the offseason, so they might be a little ahead of the defense, if only because we have a lot of walk-on coaches there,” Armas said. “Then again, it’s mostly the same kids playing both ways, so it may not matter that much at all.”

Denair Blanks Woodland Christian 32-0 in First Game

Submitted by Denair High School

Denair’s dominating 32-0 season-opening victory over Woodland Christian didn’t help Coyotes football Coach Anthony Armas sleep any better over the weekend. Despite the lopsided score, he saw too many things that still need to be fixed.

“We’ve got a lot of things to work on,” Armas assessed.

His to-do list for practice this week is long – better angles on blocking and tackling, better play by his backs, more accuracy in the passing game and even better conditioning after many players cramped up in Friday’s heat.

All that said, there were many things that pleased Armas.

Senior Steffin Winston scored three touchdowns – twice on runs and once on a reception – on his way to 121 yards on the ground. Senior Drew Pritchard sprinted 91 yards for another touchdown. Junior middle linebacker Christian Obando spearheaded an aggressive defensive effort that included stopping Woodland on the goal line as well as scoring on a safety.

“I thought our defense played very well,” Armas said. “We really rallied to the ball.”

The Coyotes set the tone early. Denair stopped Woodland on its opening drive, then quickly scored on Winston’s first TD, a 41-yarder.

Denair tacked on another touchdown and a field goal to lead 16-0 at the end of the first quarter, but hit a lull.

“We started well, but then in the middle of the game, we didn’t do much,” Armas said. “Honestly, we should have scored three more touchdowns… We left points on the field.”

The Coyotes will have plenty of time to work on their problem areas. They have a bye this week and don’t play again until hosting Millennium of Tracy on Aug. 31 at Jack Lytton Stadium.

“We’re still trying to figure this group out,” said Armas. “Some of the things we’ve been harping on we’ve still got to fix.”

Junior varsity game: Pitman’s freshman team defeated Denair 7-0.