Denair Scores Early and Often in 36-6 Homecoming Win

Submitted by Denair High School

DENAIR – There are fast starts … and then there are faster starts.

Friday’s 36-6 Denair blowout of Delhi clearly falls into the second category.

The Coyotes scored on four of their first five plays of the game, built a 29-0 lead at halftime and coasted the rest of the way in front of a raucous homecoming crowd at Jack Lytton Stadium.

To make the night even better, the Coyotes got some help from Orestimba, which knocked off Waterford. The left Denair alone in second place in the Southern League standings and firmly in control of its own playoff destiny with two weeks left in the regular season.

The Coyotes (7-1 overall, 4-1 in the league) play at Mariposa this week before hosting Waterford on Oct. 26.

Unbeaten Ripon Christian (8-0, 5-0) – which beat Denair 35-7 four weeks ago – is cruising to the Southern League title. But two more victories would assure Denair of second place all alone and, more importantly, a high seed and home game when the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII playoffs begin Nov. 2.

“The only thing we can control is the next two games,” said Denair Coach Anthony Armas. “The CIF is going to rank us where they rank us. There’s nothing we can do about what other teams do.”

Friday night, the Coyotes made quick work of the Hawks (0-8, 0-5).

On its second play from scrimmage, Denair scored on a 28-yard run by Hunter Musgrave. After forcing a Delhi punt, Musgrave struck again, sprinting 88 yards on the first play of the next drive. He finished with 144 yards rushing on just four carries.

The score-on-the-first-play sequence was repeated on Denair’s next two possessions – first by Drew Pritchard on a 72-yard run and again when quarterback Elvis Silva connected with Steffin Winston on a 60-yard TD pass.

“We’ve got some good athletes all around,” said Armas of his offense, which is averaging more than 43 points a game in the Coyotes’ seven victories.

Denair led 29-0 at halftime. Silva threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Scott Badal in the second half, which was played almost entirely with a running clock.

The Coyotes’ defense also made its presence felt, forcing two more turnovers – a fumble recovery by Winston in the first half and another interception by Pritchard in the second half.

“It seems like Drew intercepts a pass every week,” Armas said.

Creating turnovers is not a fluke. It is a point of emphasis each week in practice in what is known as “Turnover Tuesdays,” Armas said.

“It was something we really harped on in the off season,” he explained. “Our defensive coaches do some drills where we work on stripping the football (out of opponents’ hands) or working on tips to get interceptions. Our kids really started flying around on defense in the Gustine game. Turnovers swung the momentum then and have been paying off in the past few weeks.”

JV Game: Delhi 13, Denair 6. The Coyotes are 1-5-1 overall and 1-4 in league play.

This week: Denair will play on homecoming for the fourth week in a row, this time at Mariposa (2-6, 1-4). Facing the Grizzlies the road always is a challenge, Armas said. It’s a 90-minute bus ride to a one-of-a-kind venue. “They play at the fairgrounds,” he said. “It’s just different. There are concrete and steel and car parts all around. A few years ago, they put sawdust on the field after it rained to soak up the water. It’s just a different environment.” … Fullback Dylan De Silva is expected to play after serving a one-game suspension after being ejected two weeks ago against Orestimba. … This is the first time Denair has won at least seven games since 2006, when the Coyotes made it all the way to the Section Division VI championship game. They lost to Lindhurst and finished 8-4 overall. … Denair remains No. 2 in the Modesto Bee’s small-school rankings behind Ripon Christian.

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High-Powered Denair Hammers Gustine 49-14

Submitted by Denair High School

GUSTINE – The play is called “Power,” which accurately describes what Denair’s offense intends to do to opponents.

Overpower them.

Friday night against Gustine, the Coyotes imposed their will in the second half by running “Power Left” and “Power Right” again and again in a 49-14 Southern League victory.

Denair (5-1, overall, 2-1 in the SL) actually trailed 14-7 at halftime, when it regrouped with two of its starting offensive linemen – left guard Hayden Haile (shoulder) and left tackle Zach Cherry (ankle) – sidelined by injury.

“We had to shuffle it around. We were scrambling to find that place where we were comfortable,” said Coach Anthony Armas.

Typically, that means reverting back to “Power” – a play that Armas, a former offensive lineman, calls one of his favorites.

“Power” involves most of the offensive linemen blocking straight ahead while either guard pulls to lead the play, depending on which direction it goes. It’s one of the first plays every football team learns.

“We narrowed the scope of what we did and stayed with the plays we were running well,” Armas explained. “All our kids know ‘Power.’ We just mixed it up between that and a few other plays.”

Reserves Emannuel Zapien (left tackle) and Quentin Parker (left guard) rose to the occasion, Armas said, working with the other offensive linemen to create plenty of space for running backs Hunter Musgrave, Dylan De Silva and Steffin Winston to repeatedly gashed the Reds’ defense.

Musgrave had his best game of the season, ripping off 206 yards on 18 carries and scoring three touchdowns. Winston ran 14 times for 84 yards and a TD, and DeSilva pounded Gustine for 61 yards and three more touchdowns.

Denair’s defense also had a big role in the romp, forcing three Gustine turnovers in the second half (two fumbles and one interception by Will Knox). The Coyotes turned each of those takeaways into points while holding the Reds scoreless.

“We were more aggressive in the second half. We filled our gaps better. We were flying to the ball,” Armas said.

The victory moved Denair into a four-way tie with Orestimba (5-1, 2-1), Waterford (5-1, 2-1) and Gustine (4-2, 2-1) for second place in the league behind unbeaten Ripon Christian (6-0, 3-0).

RC already has handed Denair and Orestimba their only losses. It plays at Gustine this week while Denair faces another tough road game on the West Side in Newman against Orestimba. Waterford hosts Mariposa.

JV Game: Denair 7, Gustine 0. The Coyotes are 1-3-1 overall and 1-2 in league play.

This week: It doesn’t get any easier for the Coyotes, who face an Orestimba team that just had its 23-game Southern League winning streak snapped. “They’re talented, especially on the offensive side of the ball,” Armas said. “They’re really aggressive on defense. … It’s going to be tough. It’s their homecoming; they’re coming off a loss. It should be a charged atmosphere. It will be fun.” … Denair has scored 241 points in six games despite being held to only one touchdown in its 35-7 loss to Ripon Christian. … A victory this week would put the Coyotes in a good position for a Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII playoff berth with three weeks to play – home games against Delhi and Waterford sandwiched around a road contest in Mariposa.

Denair Suffers First Loss to Unbeaten Ripon Christian; Will Try to Rebound Against Gustine This Week

Submitted by Denair High School

DENAIR – The first four weeks of Denair’s football season were marked by big plays on offense and an aggressive, swarming defense. The Coyotes averaged 44 points a game thanks to a potent running game featuring three elusive backs.

But Friday night against mighty Ripon Christian, it was the unbeaten Knights who made all the big plays in their 35-7 Southern League victory over Denair at Jack Lytton Stadium.

“They really good,” praised Denair coach Anthony Armas. “Hands down, that’s the best team we’ll face all year.”

Probably the game’s key sequence occurred in the third quarter with Denair trailing 21-7, but driving for a possible touchdown that would have made it a one-score game. The Coyotes had the ball on the RC 10-yard-line, but were stopped when a fourth-down pass fell incomplete.

On the next play, Ripon Christian running back Michael Kamps (15 carries, 186 yards, 3 TDs) broke free for a long touchdown run.

Just that suddenly, the air was sucked out of the Denair sideline. What might have been a doable 21-14 deficit with all the momentum in front of a frenzied crowd with a quarter to play became a 28-7 RC advantage.

“We couldn’t punch it in and then they had a 90-yard run,” Armas said. “That was tough.”

A similar sequence occurred near the end of the first half. Trailing 14-0, the Coyotes again drove deep into Knights territory. But Denair missed on a third-down pass attempt, then failed to convert a 33-yard field goal try.

“They had two or three big plays and our longest was about 30 yards,” Armas said.

Running back Steffin Winston led Denair’s offense with 101 yards on the ground. The Coyotes’ only touchdown came in the third quarter on a 9-yard pass from Elvis Silva to Drew Pritchard.

And though Denair moved the ball throughout the game, RC’s defense stiffened when the Coyotes threatened the end zone.

“They like to get after people,” Armas said of RC. “They blitz a lot. They dare you to throw the ball quickly. We had some good drives, but we couldn’t score like we’ve been doing.”

The victory kept the Knights (5-0 overall, 2-0 Southern League) unbeaten in what is shaping up to be a five-way battle for not only the league title but also the coveted playoff spots for the new few teams.

RC is tied with Orestimba (4-1, 2-0) and Gustine (4-1, 2-0) for first place, with Denair (4-1, 1-1) and Waterford (4-1, 1-1) just a game behind.

Denair plays at Gustine this week while Ripon Christian hosts Orestimba. Depending on the results, the standings could even tighter by the end of Friday night.

“We all knew Ripon Christian was going to be good,” Armas said. “It’s a tough league. Really tough.”

JV Game: Ripon Christian 39, Denair 0. The Coyotes fell to 0-3-1 overall and 0-2 in league play.

This week: Denair continues the Southern League gauntlet with a road game in Gustine. What will be the message this week in practice? “Regroup and move forward,” Armas said. “Realistically, we’re not going to go undefeated. We’ve got to bounce back.” … Denair expects to again rely on running backs Winston, Dylan De Silva and Hunter Musgrave to carry the offensive lead. On defense, Armas said the Coyotes will have to be stout against the run. “They’ve got a good running back and some big linemen,” he said of Gustine. … The Reds are coming off a 17-14 victory in Mariposa.

De Silva Scores 5 TDs as Unbeaten Coyotes Roll to 56-28 Victory Over Stone Ridge Christian

Submitted by Denair High School

ATWATER — Three games. Three blowouts. And now, in the mind of Denair High football coach Anthony Armas, the real season begins.

Dylan De Silva ran for 187 yards and five touchdowns Friday night as the unbeaten Coyotes erupted in the second half for a 56-28 non-league victory over Stone Ridge Christian.

Denair’s offense has been unstoppable in the first three weeks of the season, averaging 48 points behind a potent backfield trio of De Silva, Hunter Musgrave, and Steffin Winston.

The Coyotes’ defense – which features most of the same players as the offense – has been overshadowed but still very effective. They’ve recorded one shutout while holding opponents to an average of 15.3 points per game.

Up next for Denair (3-0) is the seven-game gauntlet that is the Southern League schedule, beginning Friday night at Le Grand.

“I don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves,” said Armas when asked about the meaning of a perfect preseason. He knows there are some tough opponents ahead in a league that features three undefeated teams (Denair, Ripon Christian Waterford) and as well as perennial powers Gustine, Orestimba, and Mariposa.

Friday night against Stone Ridge – on a converted athletic field at the former Castle Air Force Base – Denair took two quarters before asserting its dominance. The game was tied 21-21 at halftime before the Coyotes outscored the Knights 35-7 in the final two periods.

Much of the damage came on the same play – a trap to De Silva that Stone Ridge never figured out how to stop. The junior back consistently ripped off big chunks of yardage behind key blocks from tackles Zach Cherry and Derek Starkey and tight end Will Knox.

And when Stone Ridge began to key in on De Silva, Denair handed the ball to Musgrave (12 carries, 129 yards, 1 TD) or Winston (5 carries, 66 yards, 2 TDs).

Amazingly, Denair attempted just two passes Friday. One was a 29-yard completion to Winston on a screen; the other resulted in a sack.

“When our offense is going, you have to cover a lot of stuff as a defense,” Armas said. “Some people try to overload to one side to stop us, but that just leaves someone else free.”

Defensively, Armas credited the Coyotes for responding well to halftime adjustments made by the coaching staff.

“Every game is a feeling out process,” he said. “We had a game plan going in. … We made some tweaks at halftime. I think the kids have a better understanding each week of what we’re trying to do. We’re getting better at reading our keys and filling holes.”

Spearheading the defense were defensive end Scott Badal and middle linebacker Christian Obando.

Armas is satisfied with the progress the Coyotes are making but knows they must keep improving to compete successfully in the Southern League.

“Even plays that are working for us, we can get better,” he said. “Each week, we’re always trying to put something in – new plays, trick plays – to keep it fun for the kids. We may not use it that week, but you never know. And defensively, we still can get better at tackling.”

JV Game: Denair lost 20-12 at home to Mesa Verde of Citrus Heights.

This week: The Coyotes play at Le Grand (1-2), which is coming off a 27-20 loss to Linden. Armas said Le Grand is still in a “rebuilding process,” but has some talent. “They’ve got some big linemen and a good running back. I think it will be physically challenging. I expect them to take some shots down the field.” … Denair debuted at No. 5 in the Modesto Bee’s small-school rankings, which Armas was quick to shrug off. “That’s nice, but it’s just one guy’s opinion.”

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.”