Denair’s Blake Davis Named to Two Football All-Star Teams

Submitted by Denair High School

Denair wide receiver Blake Davis has been selected to play in two upcoming football all-star games – the 45thannual Lions Club contest on June 16 in Tracy and the 33rdannual North-South Rotary game on June 23 in Merced.

Davis is believed to be the first Denair player since lineman Joel Huber in 2003 to be chosen for either game.

“I was pretty surprised,” said Davis, who just returned from a graduation trip to Waikiki Beach in Hawaii. “I knew that coach (Anthony) Armas nominated me, but I was waiting quite a while. Then I got the text and said, ‘Sweet.’

“It’s kind of crazy to think I’m the first one from Denair in so long.”

Like most Denair players, Davis played offense and defense the past few seasons with the Coyotes. But when Lions training camp begins June 11 at CSU Stanislaus, his focus will be strictly on offense. Last year, Davis caught 20 passes for 508 yards with eight touchdowns. The 6-foot-2, 180-pounder averaged 25.4 yards per catch, which reflected his speed and toughness, his coaches say.

“He’s got good size,” Armas praised. “He’s strong. Very physical. He’s the kind of kid who makes the difficult catches.”

Added wide receivers coach Tim Fanning: “Blake has good hands. His yards gained after the catch was also very impressive.”

Though Davis hasn’t played football since November, he’s been hitting the gym to stay in shape.

“Mainly weights, squats, bench and conditioning stuff,” he said, adding the long layoff doesn’t bother him. “If I get hit one time, that’s the easy part.”

He’s looking forward to working with quarterbacks he’s never played with before.

“We’ve really got to get our timing down,” he said. “Let them known your speed and you their arms.”

And playing on back-to-back weeks even in the summer heat? “Hey, that looks like a lot of fun.”

Davis is undecided if the two all-star games will be his final times to put on pads. He’s been invited to go out for the Modesto Junior College team this fall and has also considered played at Merced College. “Maybe I’ll make up my mind during practice the next couple of weeks.”

Sports Camps and First-Ever Drone Camp Coming to Denair High

Submitted by Denair High School

School may be out, but summer will be a busy time around the Denair High School campus. Between mid-June and late July, there will be four sports camps as well as a first-of-its-kind drone camp.

Here is a complete list of the camps and costs, the age range of those eligible to enroll, and contact information. Registration payments can be made at the high school office through Thursday, June 7. After that, payments can be dropped off at the district office across the street.

Softball Camp

  • Dates:June 14-15
  • Time:9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Cost:$20
  • Grades:5-10
  • Coach:Katy Johnston
  • Details:Instruction on basic skills and fundamentals related to offense, defense and pitching. Players should bring water and snacks; lunch will be provided each day. Players should wear appropriate clothing and provide their own gloves.

Volleyball Camp and Volleyball Kids Camp

  • Dates:June 18-20
  • Time:9 a.m. to noon
  • Cost:$10 per day or $15 for all three days (paid in advance)
  • Grades:4-5, boys and girls
  • Coaches:Christy North, Courtney Lira, Yuli Tafolla
  • Details:Beginners will learn basic skills and techniques, along with introductory team strategies and conditioning. All athletes must bring their Denair IDs the first day and wear appropriate clothing (T-shirts, athletic shorts, socks, court shoes, hair clips, etc.) Parents may attend, but should bring their own chairs.

Football Camp

  • Dates:July 2-3
  • Time:8-11:30 a.m.
  • Cost:$20
  • Ages:8-13
  • Coach:Anthony Armas (209) 620-1985
  • Details:Players will learn general football skills on offense and defense, separated by position. The focus will be on proper techniques. There will be no contact. Players should wear shorts, T-shirts and cleats.

Basketball Camp

  • Dates:July 18-19
  • Time:8:30-11:30 a.m.
  • Cost:$10 per day
  • Grades:3-8, boys and girls
  • Coach:Ezcally Lopez elopez43@csustan.eduand Patty Valverde
  • Details:Focus will be on improving skills in shooting, passing, dribbling, rebounding and defense. Players should wear shorts, T-shirts and appropriate shoes. Snacks, water and a certificate of completion will be provided.

Drone Camp

  • Dates:July 23-27
  • Time:8 a.m. to noon or 1-5 p.m.
  • Cost:Free (space is limited however)
  • Ages:9-15
  • Coach:Darrin Allen
  • Details:This is about hands-on learning, innovation and adventure. Students will take to the skies and become an honorary junior drone pilot. Three free meals will be available for all students.

Denair Football Coach: Better Days Are Ahead

Submitted by Denair High School

Anthony Armas believes it’s a very good sign that he had a number of football players who couldn’t wait to hit the weight room Monday.

Even though their season ended Friday night.

As it was much of the fall, Denair was competitive in a 27-21 loss to Waterford. It was the Coyotes’ fifth consecutive loss and dropped them to 2-8 overall and 1-6 in the Southern League.

But Armas thinks the experience gained by a very young team – which will lose only three senior starters – will pay off in 2018.

And it was those sophomores and juniors who led the charge into the weight room Monday.

“We have almost everybody coming back,” Armas said. “We’ll be bigger, faster and stronger with a year under their belt. This was our year where we took our lumps, but we have a lot of returning juniors and seniors who were starters.”

Armas is not naïve about the nature of the competition. “Three of the teams from our league are in the playoffs,” he said. But he also realizes if his players can correctly process and correct the mistakes they made this season, and gain weight and size, they have a chance to surprise some people next year.

Denair, it should be noted, is only one year removed from a magical 2016 season in which the Coyotes often had a 14-man roster, yet still made the playoffs.

Quick turnarounds are possible, especially with motivated players and coaches.

“I think the younger guys are ready to get after it,” Armas said. “I had a couple of kids who said they want to win league next year. Our juniors this year won a lot when they were sophomores. Our backfield will be good.”

Friday’s game against Waterford (4-6, 3-4) followed a familiar pattern for Denair. The Coyotes were tied 7-7 at halftime, but a fumble inside the 20-yard line killed one promising drive and a couple of costly mistakes on defense allowed Waterford to score on two long pass plays. Continue reading “Denair Football Coach: Better Days Are Ahead” »

Denair Still Learning, Despite Fourth Loss in a Row

Submitted by Denair High School

There is nothing like the stark reality of a scoreboard on a Friday night to underscore the importance of the lessons taught at practice the previous four days.

“Mariposa 26, Denair 0” stared at the Coyotes as they walked off the field at halftime last week at Jack Lytton Stadium.

Coach Anthony Armas’ young squad has had a difficult year. One of his mantras week after week is that Denair must learn to play with more “physicality.” Often, the Coyotes have been unable to consistently stand up to the strength and dominance of the opposition.

It happened again Friday. Mariposa was the stronger team – and it showed in the first half. The Grizzlies’ bigger linemen mauled the Coyotes on both sides of the ball, controlling the line of scrimmage and the tempo of the game.

Denair had little margin for error, such as a fumble inside the 10-yard line in the first quarter when the Coyotes had a chance to score.

“They’re pretty physical,” Armas said of Mariposa. “I think some of our kids were a little surprised; I’m not sure why. It’s been like this almost every week. … It’s like it took us a half to wake up.”

To their credit, the Coyotes played much better in the second half.

Steffin Winston returned the opening kickoff for Denair’s first touchdown. Later, he ripped off a 42-yard TD run, followed by a 29-yard scoring dash by Hunter Musgrave in the fourth quarter.

That narrowed the gap to 33-23 Mariposa, but it was as close as Denair got. Mariposa returned an interception for a touchdown late in the game to seal its 40-23 Southern League victory.

The loss was the fourth in a row for Denair (2-7 overall, 1-5 in the SL). There is one game left and nothing approaching the excitement of last year’s improbable playoff run that Coyotes fans won’t soon forget.

And even as the five senior football players – plus the seniors in the band and on the cheerleading squad – were honored before their final home game Friday, Armas has tried to keep the season in perspective. Continue reading “Denair Still Learning, Despite Fourth Loss in a Row” »

Denair ‘Shoots Itself in The Foot’ in 28-14 Loss to Delhi

Submitted by Denair High School

Self-inflicted wounds sometimes hurt the worst. Just ask the Denair Coyotes football team.

Denair ripped off three long touchdown runs against rival Delhi on Friday night, only to have one of them wiped out by a penalty. The Coyotes also self-destructed with a couple of costly turnovers deep in their own territory and a slew of ill-timed penalties.

The result was a disappointing 28-14 Southern League loss to the Hawks.

After back-to-back losses against better and more physical teams (Ripon Christian and Orestimba), Denair Coach Anthony Armas anticipated a more even matchup against Delhi. What he didn’t expect was his team to lose its focus.

“We just shot ourselves in the foot at the wrong times,” he said. “We dropped some balls we should have caught. We threw some balls into the ground we should have completed. And the penalties just killed us.

“It was just mistakes all across the board.”

Armas recognizes he has a young team, with just five seniors among his 23 players. But he also knows that eight games into a 10-game season, it’s not simply a lack of experience holding his team back. Understanding how to control their emotions and play with poise is part of learning how to win.

“Our goal is to make this program better by doing it the right way,” he said. “We’re trying to make sure guys are dialed in and learning. That’s the big emphasis. To fix it.”

The Coyotes (2-6 overall, 1-4 in SL) started well against Delhi (3-5, 1-4).

With about 7 minutes left in the first quarter and back up on their own 3-yard line, Steffin Winston took advantage of the aggressive Hawks defense, which was crowding the line of scrimmage hoping for a safety. Instead, Winston took a handoff from Drew Pritchard on a trap play, hit the hole hard and found himself in the clear for a 97-yard sprint to the end zone.

Denair had little time to enjoy its lead.

Two plays after the kickoff, Delhi answered with a long run of its own to tie the score.

The Hawks added another TD on a 4-yard pass in the second quarter to take a 14-7 lead. Continue reading “Denair ‘Shoots Itself in The Foot’ in 28-14 Loss to Delhi” »