Unbeaten Orestimba Too Much for Gritty Coyotes

Submitted by Denair High School

Bigger, stronger, faster. It’s a theme consistently repeated for most of the past month as a young Denair High football team tries to compete against larger, more experienced rosters in the Southern League.

Friday night’s 58-20 home loss to unbeaten Orestimba was more of the same. The Coyotes showed flashes of potential and crisp execution, only to be undone by a blown assignment or other costly mistake.

“Our effort is not the problem,” said Coach Anthony Armas. “Our defense will shut someone down for two of three plays, then give up a big play. We’re just not consistent.”

Orestimba is the defending Southern League champion. Its senior-laden roster is full of players who have the confidence that comes with that success. Still, scrappy Denair went toe-to-toe with the Warriors in the first quarter Friday, which ended in a scoreless tie and included a blocked punt by the Coyotes’ Scott Badal.

But Orestimba (7-0 overall, 4-0 in league) quickly took control in the second period, scoring three touchdowns while controlling Denair’s offense.

“They really took the run away, which is what we want to do,” Armas said. “They were bringing a lot of heat. They had a big linebacker and some long guys on the edge who gave us some issues. They basically dared us to pass and that’s not our offense.”

That defensive pressure led to an Orestimba safety late in the quarter, giving the Warriors a 23-0 lead. But Orestimba muffed the ensuing Denair punt and Blake Davis recovered for the Coyotes (2-5, 1-3). A few plays later, quarterback Drew Pritchard escaped the rush and found Davis with a pretty 26-yard touchdown pass.

But Orestimba scored three more times in the third quarter and twice in the fourth to blow the game open and force a running clock.

The lone second-half highlights for Denair were two long kickoff returns for touchdowns by Hunter Musgrave – one for 88 yards and the other for 80 on the final play of the game

Junior varsity game: Orestimba shut out Denair 12-0. The Coyotes fell to 1-2 in league play and 2-3 overall.

This week: The Coyotes take to the road Friday to square off with rival Delhi (2-5, 0-4). “This is always a knockdown, drag-out fight,” Armas said. “They’ll stick a bunch of people in the box and dare us to throw it, just like everyone else. … They’re in about the same situation as us when it comes to numbers, but they’re our biggest rival so that doesn’t really mean much.”

Underdog Denair Faces Mighty Orestimba in Football

Submitted by Denair High School

Even in the best of conditions, it’s tough enough trying to prepare for the best football team in the Southern League. Wednesday was not the best of conditions for the Denair Coyotes, who host unbeaten Orestimba on Friday night.

Strong north winds pushed a thick layer of smoke from the Napa and Sonora wildfires into the valley and sent air-quality readings into the unhealthy range. Taking no precautions, school officials in Denair and across the region appropriately cancelled outdoor events. Including football practice.

It clearly was the right decision. Everyone’s health is more important than any one workout. But it added another hurdle into what already looms as one of Denair’s biggest challenges – how to keep up with mighty Orestimba (6-0 overall, 3-0 in the SL).

Typically, Wednesday is the day Denair practices at night at Jack Lytton Stadium. That didn’t happen.

“Usually, Wednesday is our best day of practice,” said Coach Anthony Armas. “We’re in the stadium, under the lights, in full pads. The guys like it.”

Denair (2-4, 1-2) is coming off a 36-14 loss last week at Ripon Christian, another game that Armas feels like the Coyotes were physically overmatched.

“We get matchups with certain teams that just aren’t good for us,” he said. “RC is very big. That was kind of rough. Le Grand is more like us (referring to Denair’s 63-20 victory two weeks ago).”

Orestimba will present more of the same size challenges. The Warriors also are skilled at many positions, plus they have nearly twice as many players on their roster as Denair. The Coyotes’ 23-man roster is light on seniors (5) and relies heavily on sophomores (7) pulled up from the JV team.

“They’re the best team in our league and have been the past couple of years,” Armas said. “We’re not going to do anything different. We’ll prepare like every other team. We’ll focus on us and how to get our offense better, and our defense and special teams.”

Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. at Jack Lytton Stadium.

Denair Sports Boosters Host First Annual Bratoberfest

Submitted by Denair Sports Boosters

On Saturday, October 7, 2017, Denair Sports Boosters will be hosting it’s First Annual Bratoberfest & Gun Raffle from 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm, at the Denair Community Center. They will be serving a variety of Bratwurst, along with sauerkraut, potato salad and a selection of beer for a traditional Octoberfest style celebration. Big screen TV’s will be broadcasting college football throughout the evening, as well as a variety of gun raffles. Tickets are $35 for all you can eat and drink. Proceeds from the event will benefit Denair Football.  Tickets are available by calling (209) 380-8180, or at the door the day of the event.

Despite Loss, Denair Football Coach Sees Improvement

Submitted by Denair High School

Sometimes, especially with a group of young players like this year’s Denair football team, improvement can’t always be measured by wins and losses. Sometimes, statistical dominance can be misleading. Sometimes, progress requires closer analysis.

Such was the case with Friday night’s 42-28 loss by Denair to Gustine – a game in which the Coyotes courageously fought despite being physically overpowered much of the time.

“We played better than we have all year,” complimented coach Anthony Armas. “We still have a lot of things to fix, but we were much more physical.”

Armas’ analysis is based on Denair’s grit and competitiveness. “The last couple of years, Gustine kind of bullied us and knocked us around. Not Friday.”

Gustine still won most every battle in the trenches. The Redskins punished the Denair defense on the ground behind running backs Oliver Perez (20 carries, 173 yards, 3 TDs rushing, 1 receiving), Bryan Villalobos (18 carries, 177 yards, 1 TD) and Brandon Garbez (10 carries, 101 yards).

“They have a really big line and a couple of good backs,” Armas acknowledged, adding that despite the numbers, he thought his defense showed courage. “They ran a lot of power plays against us, but I was proud of the way way we took on blocks. Our issue on defense is we have a lot of young kids who still are trying to understand our scheme.”

In all, Gustine ran for 496 yards and averaged 9 yards a carry. The Reds (1-0 Southern League, 3-1 overall) also passed for 111 yards to pile up more than 600 yards in total offense.

But this is where stats can be deceptive.

Denair (0-1, 1-3) relied on big plays to offset Gustine’s interior dominance. The Coyotes’ shortest touchdown was a 30-yard run by Dylan De Silva in the second quarter that helped forge a 14-14 halftime tie.

Earlier, quarterback Drew Pritchard threw a short pass to Hunter Musgrave, who turned it into a 66-yard TD by racing through the Gustine defense. Musgrave also returned a kickoff 90 yards in the third quarter for another score. Continue reading “Despite Loss, Denair Football Coach Sees Improvement” »

Denair Learns to be the Aggressor in 27-24 Victory Over Millennium

Submitted by Denair High School

Football is a physical game. It’s all about size and strength combined with speed and leverage. The toughest guys don’t always win, but their willingness to deliver and absorb hard hits certainly can set a tone for a team. Younger players, in particular, can be intimidated.

Just ask Denair coach Anthony Armas, a bruising former lineman who must walk a fine line during practice. He recognizes his inexperienced team must learn to be more physical. But with less than 20 players available and most playing both offense and defense, he also realizes that too much hitting during the week risks injuries that could leave the Coyotes at a disadvantage come game time.

Armas thought Denair was dominated in its 48-2 season-opening loss to Summerville. With a bye in Week 2, he and his coaching staff emphasized playing more physically in Saturday’s game against Millennium.

Message received.

Denair won 27-24 thanks to big games from Blake Davis, Drew Pritchard and Steffin Winston – and by playing with more intensity, especially in blocking and tackling.

“Physically, we got tougher. I think Summerville took it to us,” Armas said. “This week, I thought we took it to them (Millennium).”

The Coyotes’ short roster prevents them from lots of hitting during the week. Instead, the coaches use heavy bags and tackling dummies to teach players about leverage and technique. But there is no substitute for live game experience when the adrenalin is flowing under the lights.

“We definitely got better, but there still are a lot of things we need to work on,” assessed Armas.

Denair’s three-headed attack of Hunter Musgrave, Dylan De Silva and Winston “all ran hard,” according to Armas. Winston scored on two short runs in the second quarter as the Coyotes built a 13-6 halftime lead. Continue reading “Denair Learns to be the Aggressor in 27-24 Victory Over Millennium” »