Improvements to Football Field Turf Already Evident

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

It’s no longer safe to be a gopher on the Denair High football field. Though not completely gone – yet – the critters that had turned the sod at Jack Lytton Stadium into a pot-holed minefield are almost completely gone and their tunnels filled in. In their place is an emerald carpet of smooth, lush turf.

The massive improvement in field condition is due to hard work on two fronts: Eradication and restoration.

The first phase included an aggressive trapping project that killed more than 50 gophers by the end of February.

“There are two or three active gopher holes on the football field,” said Facilities Director Brian Holloway. “I’m going to require therapy if I don’t get them soon.”

The second step happened in late February when the pros from West Coast Turf showed up.

Five dump trucks delivered about 125 tons of specially formulated sand, which was spread a quarter-inch deep across the turf. Small tractors loaded with a mixture of Kentucky blue grass and rye seed then worked their way from one end of the field to the other. Fertilizer was applied, followed by another quarter-inch of sand. The final step was to drag the field, helping to fill in the low spots to make for a more uniform surface.

The rains helped. So did all the recent sunshine. Holloway and his staff have kept everyone off the turf for now. The field is mowed twice a week.

“The grass is thicker and greener than when I started,” said Holloway, who was hired in January 2016. “It’s no longer difficult to run on.” Continue reading “Improvements to Football Field Turf Already Evident” »

Huge Improvements Under Way for Denair Sports Fields

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

For the past couple of seasons, the gophers making the football field their home outnumbered the players on the Denair sideline. And it wasn’t even close.

Concerns about sunken gopher holes and their potential danger to players often forced Denair High athletic director Darrin Allen and a handful of volunteers to scurry around with buckets of sand before referees would start the game.

More than once, people on the sidelines and in the stands spotted rodents during games. “They were brazen little suckers,” said school board Trustee Ray Prock Jr.

Since the first of the year, more than 50 gophers have been trapped and exterminated on the football field. And Monday, a Livingston company that has provided turf and field maintenance for the Giants, 49ers and most other professional and college stadiums on the West Coast arrived to work on the surface at Jack Lytton Stadium.

Very soon, it will be a little easier for Allen, Prock and Denair’s athletes to laugh about those gopher stories.

“Knowing the problem has been recognized and we are finally moving forward with a solution is enough for me,” said Allen, who has more than three decades of experience on the field, going back to his days as a Denair athlete.

Facilities director Brian Holloway realized not long after arriving last year that there was a gopher problem at the football field. A pest control company tried to use bait to kill the rodents, but Holloway said it was ineffective. It wasn’t until the football and soccer seasons were completed that a more aggressive eradication program could be coupled with field restoration.

“There are only a few active gophers left,” said Holloway, promising their days are numbered, too.

Gopher tunnels often are only a foot or two below the surface. One of the benefits of a rainy winter has been to soften the ground and collapse the tunnels. Holloway, his staff and even some Denair High athletes have made patchwork progress filling in the holes. Between storms last week, the football field also was aerated. Continue reading “Huge Improvements Under Way for Denair Sports Fields” »

Denair Students on the Move – Trips Set This Year to Fresno, Magic Mountain and Disneyland

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

Students at Denair High School and Denair Charter Academy soon will be logging some miles traveling up and down Highway 99 to Fresno and Southern California.

School board trustees approved three upcoming trips at their meeting Thursday night.

The first is April 22-25 when as many as 19 FFA students from Denair High are expected to attend the state FFA convention in Fresno. The conference is one of the high points of the FFA calendar each year, anticipated almost as much as county fairs where animals are shown and projects are judged.

The convention provides leadership training, networking and growth opportunities for students. An estimated 5,000 teens from across the state attend each year. Denair’s attendees are selected based on their participation in FFA events, their grade-point averages and the effort they put forth in classes.

“There are sessions with speakers and other breakouts on different topics. It’s very popular and important for students,” Denair High ag teacher Molly Hanson told the board. She, fellow teacher Matthew Marshall and at least one other adult will chaperone the Denair contingent.

Trustee Ray Prock Jr. went to the convention with his son three years ago and said it was a terrific experience. “This is something to see. The only thing that rivals it is the national convention in Indianapolis.”

A second trip involves soon-to-be graduates at DCA, an independent study program separate from the traditional high school. For the first time, there will be a senior trip for graduates to a Southern California theme park. Only instead of going to Disneyland, as many schools do (Denair High grads will go May 10-11), DCA students will enjoy the roller coasters and other thrills at Magic Mountain in Valencia. Continue reading “Denair Students on the Move – Trips Set This Year to Fresno, Magic Mountain and Disneyland” »

Justin Steeley Named Southern League Football Co-MVP

Submitted by Denair High School

Justin Steeley, the heart and soul of a determined Denair High football team that succeeded despite limited numbers, was selected as the co-Most Valuable Player of the Southern League in voting by the league’s coaches.

Also honored were Joe Brasil, chosen as lineman of the year for his play on offense and defense, as well as defensive back Brendan Curnow.

Steeley is a senior who excelled at running back and linebacker. He scored 17 touchdowns and was the emotional leader all season for the Coyotes (6-5), who reached the Division VI playoffs before losing to eventual Sac-Joaquin Section champion Amador. For much of the season, Denair had no more than 15 players on its varsity roster.

Steeley shared the league’s top honor with Toby Silva, a wide receiver and defensive lineman for league champion Orestimba.

Brasil, a senior, was a force on both sides of the ball. At 5-foot-9 and 230 pounds, he was the Coyotes’ strongest player and the one they often ran behind on offense and counted on to make a big play on defense.

Big plays were Curnow’s specialty. The senior scored six touchdowns as a running back against Le Grand and spearheaded the Coyotes’ ball-hawking secondary with hard hits and interceptions, including three against Ripon Christian.

Three Denair players made the all-SL second team – defensive back Chase Pritt, linebacker Zach Ramalay and tight end Dylan Mann – while Joe Ciccarelli and Hector Obando gained honorable mention.

The awards were announced Saturday night by head coach Anthony Armas at the Coyotes’ football banquet.

2016 Denair Football Team’s Unshakeable Legacy: Pride and Confidence Restored to Program

DHS Coyotes Football

Submitted by Denair High School

Forget the numbers. It was always about heart and will and determination with this year’s Denair High football team. While the doubters and the others fixated on how few players Denair had, the Coyotes focused on what they could control – effort and desire. They practiced hard and played even harder, accomplishing goals few outsiders believed were in reach.

Never mind Friday’s 48-12 Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI playoff loss to a more talented Amador team. The 2016 Coyotes will long be remembered as the young men and their coaches who restored pride and confidence in the program.

“These are the guys who jump started our program,” said second-year coach Anthony Armas. “I think what we were able to do this year despite our numbers … to get people excited again about the program, that’s going to be their legacy.”

Denair rarely had more than 14 or 15 players suit up for any game. Frequently, there were more coaches on the sideline than reserves. Because of injuries, the Coyotes even finished a 50-0 blowout over Le Grand with 12 players.

The fact that Denair was winning while facing teams with twice as many or more players was remarkable.

“I think some things didn’t go the way we wanted, but the way we overcame the numbers, that was satisfying. Not only for the kids, but the coaches, too. I’ve never been part of that,” said Armas.

The Coyotes finished the year 6-5. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. The program had won only eight games in the past four seasons combined. Denair wasn’t given much of a chance in the Southern League, but ended up tying for third place, shut out three league opponents and earned a playoff berth only it saw coming.

Armas said he sensed something magical might be happening when his players forced seven turnovers and beat Ripon Christian 32-0 on the road on Oct. 7.

“It was like, ‘Holy Cow,’ ” he said. “Everybody got psyched.” Continue reading “2016 Denair Football Team’s Unshakeable Legacy: Pride and Confidence Restored to Program” »