The battle for second place in the Southern League and the opportunity to clinch a playoff berth were both on the line Friday night when Denair High, the defending CIF State (D-VII AA) and Sac-Joaquin Section (D-VII) champs, hosted Mariposa and edged them out in a wildly close 14-13 final.
“We know it is always going to be tough against Mariposa, they are a physical team year in and year out,” said Denair head coach Anthony Armas. “Everyone was talking about how good their defense was, and we had a couple guys out tonight which was going to be tough to deal with, but our defense played well and picked up our offense.”
Denair’s defense picked up where they left off the last three league games.
In fact, they had allowed just seven, 13 and eight points in the last three games in the Southern League, respectively. Over the last three games, prior to Friday’s win, Denair had outscored opponents, 84-28.
With Friday’s win, Denair has now won four straight and have held the last three opponents to 13 points or less.
Over the past two seasons, Denair’s record in the Southern League is 11-2. Their only two losses have come at the hands of the league champs Ripon Christian.
Their overall record for the year improves to 7-2 and 5-1 in league.
The opening quarter of Friday’s game was a blur of missed tackles, multiple three and outs and no points.
Finally, in the second, Mariposa broke the stalemate after Wyatt Green found Jake Swift for a 32-yard touchdown pass that made it 7-0 with 6:12 left till halftime.
Denair’s ensuing possession saw them make an 11-play drive, that essentially ended with a turnover on downs play on a fourth and six and 40 seconds remaining till the half.
Mariposa then had a quick three-play drive that saw them cough up the ball inside their own eight-yard-line.
It took just two plays in under 11 seconds for Denair to tie the game when Damien Peral ran it in from six yards out for a, 7-7, score.
Denair kicked off the third quarter with what would eventually be the game-winning drive after they went seven plays and 80 yards, closing out the drive with a Jorge Yanez four-yard run to make it 14-7.
Mariposa’s Green found Johnathan Chapman for a 36-yard touchdown pass with 4:58 left in the game, but their two-point conversion was no good and the score read 14-13.
Immediately, Denair marched down the field and made their way into Mariposa territory with 3:27 left before Peral was stripped.
Mariposa’s offense followed up with an 11-play drive that ended with a field goal try from 29-yards out from Nathan Kunz.
Multiple timeouts were called and the field goal was missed with just over 40 seconds remaining and then Denair took a knee to end it.
“I am always happy with the win. I really did expect this kind of a crazy game because Mariposa always comes out and smacks us in the mouth, they are one of the most aggressive teams we play,” said Denair’s Elvis Silva. “They are one of the better teams overall and since we didn’t win league, RC did, this game was huge since we were both in second coming into the game and a playoff spot.”
Denair will close out the regular season against Waterford High on the road at 7:15 p.m. Friday.