If Friday night’s prep football game between Denair and Turlock Christian had a title, it may have been called “The Battle of The Beaten.”
The two Southern League cellar-dwellers had come into the game with identical 0-4 league records and were a combined 0-14 going in; but when it was over the hosts from Denair came out on top in a surprisingly exciting 48-20 win over the Eagles.
“...this is the hardest we’ve played all year and I thought we did some good things out there. Denair played very well I thought,” said TC head coach Robert Kissee.
Indeed the Coyotes were downright vicious on their own home turf, jumping out to a 28-point halftime lead before Turlock Christian began to make some noise in the second half in scoring three touchdowns of its own to make somewhat of a game of it.
On Denair head coach Richard Goodwin’s 61st birthday, he received an ice-water bath on the sidelines which came after he was absolutely leveled on a running play when he was smacked out of bounds.
But it all seemed worth it for a coach whose team has admittedly struggled in dropping its first seven games of 2013. The Coyotes were energized, however, by the running of Trey Howze, who ran hard for 105 yards and a pair of TDs. Howze’s 61-yard TD bolt around right end put the finishing touches on the Coyote’s 28-point victory.
“I didn’t want to go home wet, but I’m real happy with the way we started fast and then finished the game in the end,” said the good-natured Coyotes’ coach, whose defense was paced by the hard-hitting duo of senior linebacker Jesse Padilla and junior safety Brandon Steeley.
In dropping consecutive close games to Mariposa and Gustine, Denair’s coach was miffed at the same kind of second-half lapses that looked to appear their ugly head early in the third quarter Friday night.
“It was an all-around good effort by us and it does feel good to get that first win,” Goodwin said.
Thanks to the breakaway speed of running back/QBs Jason Sherrill, who shredded Denair for 156 rushing yards and a touchdown, and his running mate Malik Portillo (78 yards, two TDs, an 80-yard kickoff return), Turlock Christian was able to compete, although the Eagles were hurt by their own mistakes.
“I had no doubt we could win this game,” said Coyotes’ quarterback Dominyc Silva, who completed five of eight pass attempts for 78 yards and a touchdown. “Everybody played tough, and I think we showed how much we’re improving."
Silva’s favorite target was senior Adam Rudd, who caught four of those passes for 56 yards. Rudd, who made three outstanding catches in a row on well-thrown Silva balls, scored a TD on a six-yard run and also had an interception.
Another big contributor was kicker Logan Lundquist, who booted six extra points and many long kickoffs that kept the ball out of the hands of the dangerous duo of Sherrill and Portillo.
“Sherrill and Portillo are definitely our best players. They’re great all-around athletes and we try to get the ball to them as much as we can,” said Kissee, who often times used three different QBs on the same drive as the constantly harassed Dutra (4-for-16, two interceptions) split time behind center with Sherrill and Portillo.
“It’s frustrating,” admitted Kissee about his team’s 0-5, 0-8 overall record, “but it’s great coaching these kids.
“In life you are going to face adversity and these kids are learning that even if you’re having a tough season and not winning games, you still have to pick yourself up, come out to practice, work as hard as you can, give it your best and keep trying. Just like life.”