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Best season ever
Coyotes handle Santee to win State title
Denair state champs 1
The Denair HIgh varsity football team celebrates after clinching the the 2018 CIF Division 7-AA State Championship title on Saturday (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

The Denair High Coyotes completed the best season in program history by winning the CIF Division 7-AA State Championship on Saturday in a 42-14 stomping over Santee High of Los Angeles.

“I am really excited for our kids and our staff. Good to see the crowd and community come out and I was getting messages from people I have not heard from in forever and it was exciting,” said head coach Anthony Armas. 

Despite the score, it wasn't an easy road for the Coyotes.

Denair had to deal without their star running back Hunter Musgrave, who was sidelined with a neck injury that he sustained at the D-VII SJS Championship game last week against Golden Sierra.

“My thoughts were one man down, we have to make the most of what we have, just run the ball as hard as you can and hit the holes hard and fast,” said Denair’s Steffin Winston.

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Steffin Winston and Carlo Morales work together to gain yards for the Coyotes during the state championship game against the Santee Falcons. Winston had 17 carries for 134 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

Winston finished the game with 17 carries for 134 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns.

This has been a stellar season for the Coyotes.

With the help of Dylan De Silva, Steffin Winston, Hunter Musgrave and Drew Pritchard, the Denair offense was able to roll through their opponents for majority of the year.

They went 6-1 in the Southern League, finishing in second place.

The only loss for the year came at the hands of the Southern League champs and the Division-VI Sac-Joaquin Section finalists – Ripon Christian.

“I hope this makes the program better,” said Armas. “I don’t think it will guarantee that will draw in or keep more kids."

Denair’s Drew Pritchard finished the game with 121 rushing yards on eight carries and also notched a pair of scores.

Santee’s first possession ended in a turnover when Elvis Silva got the interception off a tipped pass attempt and gave the Coyotes great field possession in Santee territory.

It took just six plays for Denair to put the first points on the board when Cayden Carranza ran it in from 16-yards out to make it 6-0 with 7:49 left in the first.

Winston notched his first of two touchdowns from 24 yards out and extended the lead to 12-0 with 4:19 left in the first.

Dylan De Silva ran it in from three yards out with 7:06 in the second and the score read 20-0.

Santee’s running back Joseph Todd ran in the first of two scores from 68-yards and the score read 20-6.

Denair’s Pritchard ran in his first touchdown from 47 yards out and Denair took the 28-6 lead into halftime.

Winston plunged his way in from one-yard out with 8:58 left in the third and the lead was extended to 34-6.

Pritchard scored the last touchdown for Denair with 11 minutes left in the game after he blasted his way into the end zone from 42-yards out and the score read 42-6.

Santee scored their final touchdown with 4:27 left in the game and the score read 42-14 after their two-point conversion was good.

“That is how we do it. I knew we would compete for section, but heck no I did not think we would win state, that is crazy,” said Pritchard. “This is my 11th year playing football and this is the highlight of my career. No team will ever forget this team because we were the first to win a section title and end it with a state title is the craziest experience of my life. Never regret it, I put everything on the line.”

Denair’s 12-1 record also clinches the most victories in a single season for any Coyotes football team.

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Denair's Cayden Carranza celebrates after the Coyotes clinched the the 2018 CIF Division 7-AA State Championship against the Santee Falcons (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

“This year was amazing,” Winston added. “We knew we would be something great from the start, we saw sections at our first practice and state… something nobody has done and it is amazing to be part of this.”

“We were not expecting a state title, definitely not in the next round, so there was concern we spent it all in the section title game and then the injury to Hunter had us a bit worried,” Armas added. “But once we started going it was business as usual. We had the right guys in the right spots and they filled it right.”

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Denair's Dylan De Silva works his way down the field during Saturday's CIF Division 7-AA State Championship game against the Santee Falcons (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).