Denair Volleyball Squad Making Strides As Season Progresses

Submitted by Denair High School

There are eight matches left in the Denair High volleyball season. And though the Coyotes have struggled at times – winning just once — Coach Christy North has seen consistent improvement and competitiveness. She believes Denair will play a factor in which team wins the Southern League title this fall.

“We continue to work on our serve receive issues, while steadily increasing our own serve percentage,” North said. “However, we are a stronger team than in the past, and are improving our strategies and skills each contest.

“I still believe we can have a .500 record (in league), and definitely be a spoiler against a team who doesn’t take us seriously.”

The Coyotes (1-10 overall, 1-4 in the SL) will rely on its two senior co-captains — setter Adrianna Snyder and outside hitter Cheyenne Souza – to lead the way to more success.

Snyder missed about a month and a half after suffering a concussion the first week of the season. North could see a difference when she returned. “I think her energy was contagious.”

North said Souza consistently has put pressure on opponents with her serves and aggressiveness at the net.

In Denair’s lone victory – a 3-2 win over Gustine on Sept. 11 — freshman Caitlin Warda came off the bench to start as outside hitter in the deciding game and served seven points in a row, including two aces.

North said the Coyotes still are refining their skills using a “libero,” which is a defensive specialist. Liberos must wear a contrasting jersey color from  her teammates and cannot block or attack the ball when it is entirely above net height.

Junior Tati Abebe began playing libero in the Gustine match.

The Coyotes’ next match is home against Waterford on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

De Silva Scores 5 TDs as Unbeaten Coyotes Roll to 56-28 Victory Over Stone Ridge Christian

Submitted by Denair High School

ATWATER — Three games. Three blowouts. And now, in the mind of Denair High football coach Anthony Armas, the real season begins.

Dylan De Silva ran for 187 yards and five touchdowns Friday night as the unbeaten Coyotes erupted in the second half for a 56-28 non-league victory over Stone Ridge Christian.

Denair’s offense has been unstoppable in the first three weeks of the season, averaging 48 points behind a potent backfield trio of De Silva, Hunter Musgrave, and Steffin Winston.

The Coyotes’ defense – which features most of the same players as the offense – has been overshadowed but still very effective. They’ve recorded one shutout while holding opponents to an average of 15.3 points per game.

Up next for Denair (3-0) is the seven-game gauntlet that is the Southern League schedule, beginning Friday night at Le Grand.

“I don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves,” said Armas when asked about the meaning of a perfect preseason. He knows there are some tough opponents ahead in a league that features three undefeated teams (Denair, Ripon Christian Waterford) and as well as perennial powers Gustine, Orestimba, and Mariposa.

Friday night against Stone Ridge – on a converted athletic field at the former Castle Air Force Base – Denair took two quarters before asserting its dominance. The game was tied 21-21 at halftime before the Coyotes outscored the Knights 35-7 in the final two periods.

Much of the damage came on the same play – a trap to De Silva that Stone Ridge never figured out how to stop. The junior back consistently ripped off big chunks of yardage behind key blocks from tackles Zach Cherry and Derek Starkey and tight end Will Knox.

And when Stone Ridge began to key in on De Silva, Denair handed the ball to Musgrave (12 carries, 129 yards, 1 TD) or Winston (5 carries, 66 yards, 2 TDs).

Amazingly, Denair attempted just two passes Friday. One was a 29-yard completion to Winston on a screen; the other resulted in a sack.

“When our offense is going, you have to cover a lot of stuff as a defense,” Armas said. “Some people try to overload to one side to stop us, but that just leaves someone else free.”

Defensively, Armas credited the Coyotes for responding well to halftime adjustments made by the coaching staff.

“Every game is a feeling out process,” he said. “We had a game plan going in. … We made some tweaks at halftime. I think the kids have a better understanding each week of what we’re trying to do. We’re getting better at reading our keys and filling holes.”

Spearheading the defense were defensive end Scott Badal and middle linebacker Christian Obando.

Armas is satisfied with the progress the Coyotes are making but knows they must keep improving to compete successfully in the Southern League.

“Even plays that are working for us, we can get better,” he said. “Each week, we’re always trying to put something in – new plays, trick plays – to keep it fun for the kids. We may not use it that week, but you never know. And defensively, we still can get better at tackling.”

JV Game: Denair lost 20-12 at home to Mesa Verde of Citrus Heights.

This week: The Coyotes play at Le Grand (1-2), which is coming off a 27-20 loss to Linden. Armas said Le Grand is still in a “rebuilding process,” but has some talent. “They’ve got some big linemen and a good running back. I think it will be physically challenging. I expect them to take some shots down the field.” … Denair debuted at No. 5 in the Modesto Bee’s small-school rankings, which Armas was quick to shrug off. “That’s nice, but it’s just one guy’s opinion.”

Cross Country Runners Hoping to Gain Momentum

Submitted by Denair High School

The Denair High School cross country team will look to rebound from a slow start in the coming weeks.

The Coyotes finished sixth Thursday in the first of two Southern League meets at Tuolumne River Regional Park in Modesto.

Denair’s team score of 128 (based on the cumulative total of where the five fastest runners finished in the race) left it well behind Waterford (30 points), Orestimba (48), Delhi (56) and Ripon Christian (94).

Senior Uriel Gonzalez (22 minutes, 58 seconds) and sophomore Pablo Flores (22:03) finished back-to-back in 21st and 22nd places, respectively. Juniors Brigg Wenstrand (26:13, 35th), Ramiro Diaz (26:16, 36th), Alex de la Torre (28:49, 38th) and Johnny Ibarra (28:50, 39th) also competed on the relatively flat 5K course.

Coach Matthew Groom takes responsibility for the results, but he has an understandable explanation – he just returned to school after taking time off around the birth of his son. As a result, practices, training, and participation were sporadic in the past month.

“We will work hard for the next league meet at the end of the month,” Groom promised. “I would like to get our points down to around 115 at our next meet and I hope we can break 100 points at the league finals (in late October).”

Groom credits Gonzalez, the team captain, for setting the right example during practice.

“He has shown great leadership,” the coach said. “He has worked hard every day in practice and will continue to improve on the year.”

Groom expects Flores to challenge Gonzalez as the team’s top runner this fall. That makes sense. As a freshman last year, Flores won the Sac-Joaquin Section title for his class. He will run varsity races during the regular season, but race against only sophomores in the postseason.

“I have high expectations for Pablo,” Groom said.

Wenstrand and Ibarra are veterans of last year’s team, while de la Torre and Diaz are new to cross country. Both are veterans of the soccer team in the winter; Diaz also competes in track in the spring.

“This was his first 5k and he beat some runners who have been doing this for a few years,” Groom said of Diaz. “He has a sprinting background and he is an excellent runner in the 100 and 200 for track.  I am excited about his potential, and looking forward to how good he will be when he gets more practice with running distance.”


After a Week Off, Denair Football Team Back in Action

Submitted by Denair High School

For the second year in a row, Denair played a football game … and then immediately had a bye week.

Especially this season – coming off a dominant 32-0 shutout of Woodland Christian – it might have been nice to build on that momentum.

Coach Anthony Armas said he saw evidence of a slight emotional letdown last week in practice, saying it “was hard to get the kids dialed in” without a game to look forward to last Friday.

Such is not the case this week. The Coyotes will host Millennium of Tracy on Friday at Jack Lytton Field. Kickoff is at 7:15 p.m.

Armas said the extra time off has allowed him and his coaching staff to focus on the basics on offense and defense, but it hasn’t necessarily been a good thing for all his players, at least physically.

“We’re dealing with a lot of bumps and bruises,” said Armas, who doesn’t have the luxury of depth with a 25-man roster. Most of his best players line up on both sides of the ball.

Millennium (0-2) just may be the perfect opponent in such a situation. The Falcons have lost by identical 49-6 scores to Ripon Christian and Rio Vista the past two weeks.

“They’ve had a tough time,” said Armas, who nonetheless remembers a year ago when Denair had all it could handle before beating Millennium 27-24 in Tracy.

Armas is optimistic that his offense will click like it did against Woodland Christian when Steffin Winston scored three touchdowns and piled up 121 yards on the ground and Drew Pritchard raced 91 yards for another touchdown.

“I got to work with a lot of our backfield kids in the offseason, so they might be a little ahead of the defense, if only because we have a lot of walk-on coaches there,” Armas said. “Then again, it’s mostly the same kids playing both ways, so it may not matter that much at all.”

Denair High School Fall Sports Preview

Submitted by Denair High School

Building upon last year’s unexpected successes will be the theme for the Denair High School football and cross country teams this fall, while the volleyball club will seek to create positive momentum of its own under the leadership of a new coach.

Here’s a quick overview of the Coyotes’ varsity teams, which swing into action Friday the first football game at Summerville and cross country meet in Lodi. The volleyball girls begin Monday with a non-league match at Turlock Christian.



The Coyotes were the biggest small-school surprise in the Sac-Joaquin Section last fall, overcoming long odds and a small roster to earn a spot in the Division VI playoffs. Despite suiting up as few as 14 or 15 players, Denair finished third in the Southern League and posted its first winning record (6-5) in years.

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,” coach Anthony Armas said after the season. “I think what we were able to do despite our numbers … to get people excited again about the program, that’s going to be their legacy.”

Armas began practice this season with 22 players on his varsity squad, which has only five returning starters from a year ago. Adding depth is a talented group of juniors and sophomores who are used to winning – they were unbeaten last year at the JV level.

Among the seniors are three two-way players who will add experience and muscle to the line – Blake Davis (tight end/outside linebacker), Dylan Mann (tight end/defensive end) and Bryson Prock (center/defensive line). Continue reading “Denair High School Fall Sports Preview” »