Denair Boys on Cusp of Clinching Playoff Berth

Submitted by Denair High School

Possibly as soon as Tuesday night, the Denair High School boys basketball team can accomplish something it hasn’t done in seven years – clinch a spot in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoffs.

The Coyotes are 7-2 with three regular-season games remaining on the Southern League schedule. They are two games behind unbeaten Mariposa (9-0), but even more important, they are two games in front of third-place Orestimba (5-4).

A victory Tuesday night against Gustine (4-6) would assure Denair of its first playoff berth in R.J. Henderson’s six seasons as head coach.

“I’ve told them to embrace it. It’s uncharted water for us,” Henderson said Monday. “We used to get 50 or 60 people in the stands, but now we’re playing in front of several hundred. It’s fun. The guys are big men on campus right now. They’re walking around with their chests out.”

After Tuesday, Denair will be at home for its final two league games – Friday against Orestimba (5-4) and next Monday against Waterford.

The playoffs begin Friday, Feb. 16. Depending on how they finish, there is an outside chance the Coyotes could host their first game. More likely, Henderson said, is that they will be sent on the road to play a higher seed.

No matter. This year’s players and coaching staff are riding a wave of excitement not felt since 2010-11, the last time Denair qualified for postseason.

Last Friday, the school chartered a rooter’s bus for the team’s away game in Delhi. More than 70 people climbed aboard. They were treated to a rout – Denair crushed the Hawks 62-35.

“It was electric,” Henderson said of the support from the stands. Continue reading “Denair Boys on Cusp of Clinching Playoff Berth” »

Magical Regular Season Ends With Unexpected Loss, But Denair Still Rewarded With Football Playoff Berth

DHS Coyotes Football

Submitted by Denair High School

So much has gone right this year for the Denair High football team that a victory Friday over Waterford – on Senior Night, in the final regular-season game of the year, with a playoff berth likely riding on the outcome – seemed preordained.

The scrappy Coyotes have been the feel-good story of the fall, winning games despite a 15-man roster and earning regional and media attention in the process. Surely the Hollywood script writers knew the proper ending.

Uh, apparently not.

Waterford’s 20-12 victory not only threw cold water over a rabid fan base primed to let loose with a raucous celebration at Jack Lytton Stadium, it threatened to be the final act of an otherwise magical season. A playoff spot that seemed so certain suddenly was at risk.

“I think everybody was disappointed because we felt we had to win to get in,” said Coach Anthony Armas on Sunday. “We had a really good crowd. A lot of alumni showed up.”

He said the players and coaches all realized what a loss might mean. “We felt very bad. … It all kind of hit home after the game.”

Still, as had already been planned, the entire Denair team and coaching staff gathered Saturday afternoon in Athletic Director Darrin Allen’s classroom to watch a live feed of the playoff announcements. They had to wait more than an hour before the Division VI pairings were revealed.

And then they heard their names called right away.

Despite Friday’s upset, Denair was rewarded with the No. 8 seed. The Coyotes (6-4) will play top-seeded Amador (10-1) on Friday at 7 p.m. in Sutter Creek.

“We got a little reprieve,” said Armas, admitting, “I was pretty nervous.”

Making the playoffs provided a much-needed balm to the self-inflicted injuries Denair suffered through Friday against Waterford. Continue reading “Magical Regular Season Ends With Unexpected Loss, But Denair Still Rewarded With Football Playoff Berth” »