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Coyotes suffer first loss at hands of undefeated Knights
Denair's Dylan De Silva celebrates after a touchdown against the Ripon Christian Knights Friday evening. CANDY PADILLA/Turlock Journal

The Denair High School varsity football team was ready to protect their perfect record, but Ripon Christian High School came out on top in the battle of undefeated teams and handed the Coyotes their first loss of the season 35-7.


Denair head coach Anthony Armas said that despite the loss, he’s impressed with what his team has accomplished so far in 2018.


“I think we’ve got a great group of young men and it’s been fun to coach them,” Armas said. “I don’t think it’s the end of the season by any means…we’re still in the hunt for a league title and we’re still 4-1, which is better than we’ve been in a long time.”


Friday’s loss coupled with the Coyotes’ 41-21 victory over Le Grand last week puts the team at 1-1 in Southern League play. In their four victories this season Denair has scored at least 30 points in each, but Ripon Christian was able to hold them to just one touch down on Friday.


“Tonight was a setback for sure, but that’s a really good team,” Armas said. “They did what they wanted to do and we didn’t quite do what we wanted to do.”


After a three and out from the Coyotes on their first possession of the game, the Knights were able to jump ahead 6-0 on their own opening series, completing a 15-play drive down the field that ate up much of the time in the first quarter but ended with a blocked point after attempt by Denair.


From there Ripon Christian didn’t hold back, and after a Denair fumble in the second quarter they capitalized on the mistake and scored once more as time wound down in the half. The Knights increased their lead to 21-0 within the first three minutes of the second half, but after a pep talk during half time the Coyotes also came back onto the field ready to score.


Denair answered back thanks to a nine-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Elvis Silva to running back Drew Pritchard, bringing the score to 21-7.


It was the lone touchdown for the Coyotes, who had 256 total yards on the night compared to the Knights’ 356. Ripon Christian would go on to score twice more in the game.


Running back Steffin Winston was the top offensive player for the Coyotes, collecting 101 total yards.


“We came into the game hungry and wanting to get a win, so our plan was to be aggressive,” Winston said. “This week we’re going to go into practice on Monday and continue to hit hard. As hard as we can.”


Next week the Coyotes will head to Gustine High School, where they’ll take on the Reds in their third league matchup of the season at 7 p.m. Last year Gustine got the best of Denair, but Armas is optimistic that his team will use this week’s loss as motivation to better themselves and improve to 5-1.


“I saw a lot of fight tonight,” he said. “We’re going to go back, fix what we did wrong and see how we can do what we want to do against Gustine.”