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Diego Padilla
Denair soccer senior captain Diego Padilla was named the Journal’s athlete of the week (Photo courtesy of Marcos Pimentel/Valley Media Production).

The Denair Coyotes are entering the fourth week of Southern Athletic League play on a roll, and leading the charge is senior captain Diego Padilla, who had a pair of goals in each of the Coyotes’ two wins last week.

Last Tuesday, Padilla’s two goals helped lift the Coyotes 4-1 over the Orestimba Warriors. On Friday, he knocked in two more to help his team pull away from the Le Grand Bulldogs 5-2. The win pushed the two-time, defending CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI champions to 4-1 in the SAL and to 13-5 overall.

Their lone loss in league play thus far came against the Delhi Hawks (4-0, 12-3-1) last month, a match in which they lost 3-1. They continued to stumble that same week with 1-0 and 3-2 losses to Pitman and Turlock, respectively, in non-conference play. But if you’ve ever met Padilla, you know he’s as positive and as optimistic as they come.

“We lost a really tough one to Delhi, then we lost to Pitman and Turlock both by a goal, but ever since then, we’ve been going strong. Those were games we built off of because we’re a D-6 school competing with these D-2, D-1 teams. Honestly, I’m really, really proud of my team. We make do with what we have and get the most out of all our players,” he said.

Padilla’s first varsity year was last season when the Coyotes repeated as Section champions. Now that they are back on track following the tough December, he has two goals in mind: Win the SAL and cap-off the three-peat.

“I’d love to make it three-in a row. The three-peat would be amazing.”


Age: 18

Grade: Senior

Favorite class: English

Favorite food: Shrimp alfredo

Hobbies: Video games, fishing, hiking, spending time with family

Favorite video games: Fortnite, Apex and Warzone

Pets: Three German shorthaired pointers

Favorite movie: “How to Train Your Dragon”

Favorite color: Blue

Favorite athlete: Cristiano Ronaldo

Favorite team: Real Madrid

Favorite artist: Junior H

Three songs on my playlist: “Love Me Again” by John Newman, “Atrapado en un Sueno” by Junior H, “Viva la Vida” by Coldplay