DENAIR — James Behrens learned he was going to start as the Denair High quarterback only about 10 hours before the Coyotes were set to face Turlock Christian High in the Monte Vista Showdown, which is the annual meeting between the two schools that reside on the same road. The news didn’t make him sweat or caused him to hide in a dark place somewhere.
“I wasn’t really worried,” Behrens said. “I just came out and did it.”
So did his teammates.
Before both sides agreed on issuing a running clock in the fourth quarter, Behrens was the star on this night and completed 6-of-8 passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns in a 45-0 dismantling of the Eagles, who suited just barely enough players to field a football team. The situation got worse after another Turlock Christian player went down due to an injury. This time, it was tight end/defensive back Chase Ulrich on the opening kickoff.
The number of players the Eagles (1-5 SL, 2-7 overall) has available for next week: 14. That’s just three more than the 11 required to play a game.
Still, the Coyotes were still very powerful throughout the game, hammering touchdown after touchdown on their way to a 5-2 league record (6-3 overall). They will face a tough Waterford High (4-2) squad next week in the season finale with a chance at second place in the SL, while perhaps boosting their playoff seeding in Division V.
The Coyotes didn’t take long to gain control, though they did it in a risky way. On fourth-and-17 play, the Coyotes decided not to punt and Behrens connected with Trevor Werner on a 31-yard touchdown pass for the game’s first score with less than 6 minutes left in the first. The onslaught was on.
Denair went up 35-0 with about 3 minutes left in the first half after Behrens hit Werner for another TD pass, this time a 65-yarder. By now, everyone seemed impressed by the play of the backup quarterback.
“I did have confidence in him,” running back Dylan Souza said of Behrens. “He’s a very good backup quarterback. He knows how to play the game very well. He did good tonight.”
Other Coyotes did good, too. Souza himself rushed for two touchdowns of 5 and 10 yards, Jose Galvan also rushed for two short TDs of 3 yards apiece and kicker Paul Oei nailed a season-best 44-yard field goal just before the end of the third quarter to give Denair a 45-0 lead, more than enough for a comfortable lead. Oei was also 6-for-6 in extra-point kicks.
Denair now owns a 3-1 series lead over the Eagles, with this year’s win being the first shutout.
“The game plan coming in was, ‘This is a rivalry game,’” Coyotes coach Therion Gregory said. “Off the bat, we gave them 14 points. We wanted to come in and play hard. We knew they only had two wins, but we have a tough game next week against Waterford.”
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