The Denair Coyotes varsity football team marched into Friday's Southern Athletic League matchup against Ripon Christian with 14 determined players and the hopes of making a statement in league.
They did that and more, shutting out last year's Division-VI Sac-Joaquin Section semi-finalists in a home game that went well from the onset.
What head coach Anthony Armas and his assistants saw was a Coyotes team that played a very physical game from start to finish and kept the foot on the pedal as they managed to shutout their second straight SAL opponent, this time by a score of 32-0.
“I thought we had a chance this year. Last year we had no chance against this team,” said Armas. “We had a gameplan and thought we executed and adjusted when we needed to and it's a testament to the kids getting used to the system, it was impressive.”
It was more than impressive, as they snapped their losing streak to RC, by playing a near flawless game while making the Knights uncomfortable. Denair lost to RC 54-0 last year.
Denair's last win over RC was back on Oct. 8, 2010, when the Coyotes won 64-33. That Denair team went on to accumulate a 6-5 overall record, 5-2 in the SAL and made the playoffs.
“They are a real physical team and we knew we needed to come out and hit them first, we needed to punch them and we did and they got a little scared and we ran it down their throats,” said Denair's Chase Pritt. “We were able to pound the rock.”
They did, eventually wearing down RC and forcing them to turn the ball over a whopping nine times, including two forced fumbles and seven interceptions from the defense.
Denair made the statement clear on the opening drive for RC after forcing a fumble and scoring on their first drive of the game after Kyle Prock connected with Dylan Mann on an 11-yard grab to take the 6-0 lead.
From there, Denair held the lead and controlled the tempo of the game, forcing the Knights to earn every inch gained.
They held RC on two goal-line stands inside the 10-yard line with ferocious play and attack from all of their 14 players, especially Justin Steeley, Brendan Curnow and Pritt. Denair tallied 385 yards of total offense.
Steeley finished the game with two touchdown runs and an interception. Pritt added a seven-yard score from the ground, had a pick-six and added an interception. Curnow added a pair of interceptions, including a pick-six.
Denair led 6-0 at the half and went on to score 26 consecutive points in the final two quarters as they stunned the Knights for their second shutout in back-to-back weeks after shutting out Le Grand, 50-0, last Friday.
“I think we came out and we want to prove to everyone that we are here to play and try to win league,” said Curnow. “We are coming. Everyone is underestimating us, we are coming. We are so conditioned with our 14 guys so it doesn't even matter, we are just playing great doing our thing.”
Denair improves to 2-1 in the SAL and 4-2 overall as their next game will be against last year's SAL champions Orestimba on the road at 7:30 p.m. Friday.