No. 1 Denair Will Host Southern League Rival Gustine in First Home Football Playoff Game Since 2007

Submitted by Denair High School

It will be a Southern League rematch in the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII football playoffs.

Top-seeded Denair (9-1) vs. No. 4 Gustine (6-5), with a spot in the championship game at stake. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. Friday at Jack Lytton Stadium.

The teams know each other well and played Sept. 28 in Gustine. Denair, trailing 14-7 at halftime, ambushed the Reds with six touchdowns in the second half to win 49-14 and ruin Gustine’s homecoming.

That victory launched the Coyotes on a five-game winning streak that earned them solo second place in league behind unbeaten Ripon Christian, the coveted No. 1 seed in the playoffs and a first-round bye last week.

Gustine earned its rematch with Denair edging Millennium of Tracy 28-27 in Gustine last Friday.

Denair coach Anthony Armas said he didn’t have a preference of who his team would play, but isn’t surprised that it’s Gustine. The Coyotes also defeated Millennium earlier this season.

“They’re both physical and have some talented kids,” Armas said. “Gustine has some big kids up front. They have a pretty talented running back. And their quarterback is pretty good.”

Denair overpowered Gustine in the first game. Hunter Musgrave had his best game of the season, ripping off 206 yards on 18 carries and scoring three touchdowns. Steffin Winston ran 14 times for 84 yards and a TD, and Dylan DeSilva added 61 yards and three more touchdowns. Denair also forced three turnovers.

“I don’t think they’re 100% convinced that that win was legit,” Armas said of Gustine. “I think they think it was a fluke. They’re going to try to take it to us.”

The coach said his message this week will be the same as it’s been since practice began in August. “Just keep getting better at what we do.”

What the Coyotes thrive on is a Wing T offense that keeps opponents guessing about which running back will carry the ball and which direction that will be. Other than Ripon Christian, no one has stopped Denair this year. The Coyotes are averaging 44 points a game in their nine victories.

What’s equally important is Denair’s defense. The Coyotes are holding opponents to 18 points a game, including one shutout and three games allowing just one touchdown.

“We’ve done pretty well offensively, but I think our defense gets overlooked,” Armas said. “It was in the second half of that Gustine game that we became ball hawks. We’ve been good about creating turnovers ever since.”

He expects Friday’s game to be closer than the first meeting, if only because Gustine will be looking for payback and to spoil Denair’s season.

“It’s easier to make adjustments when you lose like that,” Armas said.

Extra points: This will be the first home playoff game for Denair since 2007, according to athletic director Darrin Allen. … The Coyotes last were in the playoffs two seasons ago, when they were beaten on the road by Amador in the first round. … The other Division VII semifinal on Friday night has No. 3 seed Golden Sierra (7-4) of Grass Valley at No. 2 Big Valley Christian (9-1) of Modesto. … The championship game will be played Saturday, Nov. 17 at 1 p.m. at a site still to be determined.

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” »