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BACK-TO-BACK: Coyotes repeat as Section champs with dominant finals showing
Denair boys soccer
The Denair High boys soccer team celebrates their second consecutive blue banner after defeating Esparto High 2-0 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI title game on Saturday in Sacramento (CHRISTOPHER CORREA/The Journal).

For the second year in a row, the Denair High boys varsity soccer team are Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI champions after blanking Esparto High at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento on Saturday afternoon 2-0. The two straight blue banners are the only two won by Denair soccer program in its 22-year history.

“What can I say, all the hard work that these guys did for the past couple months has paid off,” said Coyotes head coach Antonio Padilla. “I feel so happy for them. It’s their moment.”

The moment of celebration for the Coyotes was helped made possible by a pair of familiar faces early in Saturday’s title match.

The dominant showing was jumpstarted by the aggressive offensive play of senior striker Angel Sanchez, who was able to split multiple Esparto defenders before sending the ball into the back of the net in the sixth minute of action. It was Sanchez’s team-leading 49th goal of the season.

Just six minutes later, it was fellow captain Diego Padilla who joined in on the fun, firing a penalty kick past Esparto goalkeeper Aaron Dabalos to give the Coyotes the 2-0 advantage.

“We always want to put teams away fast, and that’s been our mindset in every game” Sanchez said. “Once a team falls behind early, especially in the Section finals, it’s easy for them to give up and put their heads down, and that’s what we did.”

As Sanchez alluded to, drawing first blood has been the theme of the Coyotes’ season, who were the No. 1 seed in the Division VI bracket, as they scored first in 15 of their 16 wins on the season. Come playoff time, the high-powered offense defeated their opponents – No. 8 Millennium, No. 4 Rio Vista and No. 2 Esparto – by a combined score of 13-1.

Though the offense has stolen the headlines throughout the season, Padilla emphasized the importance defenders and midfielders like Emanuel Renteria, Justin Hernandez and Tim Hernandez have been to the overall success of the team.

“I feel very happy for Angel and Diego, but it’s been the whole team. This is no one-man team and it’s not just about who scores. Middles are important and it’s how we defend. We are a team and I’m proud of them,” Padilla said.

Sanchez shared similar sentiments regarding his teammates.

“We have a hell of a team and I’ve loved bonding with them,” he said. “They’re all unique and have their own talent and special strengths, and I’m blessed to be around them. We set high standards for ourselves, so we’re just out here competing and making the best out of every situation. It feels great to win another Section championship.”

Padilla, smiling as wide as ever, explained that he and his team will celebrate the victory in a more formal way at a later date, as his team must now prepare for the CIF Regional playoffs, which kick off on Feb. 28.

“We’ll definitely celebrate this for a long time. We’ll set up something for later like a carne asada, but we’re not done,” he said.

Brackets for the Regional playoffs will be released later this week. With the Coyotes’ 16-10-4 overall record and considering the fact that four of the losses were preseason forfeits, there is a strong case for Denair to be the host sight for first-round opener.

For the latest on the Regional playoffs, head to