For the third time in school history, the Denair High varsity football team is headed to the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section title game after defeating Gustine High on Friday night, 39-18.
“It’s awesome,” Denair head coach Anthony Armas said. “I think we knew we had something special, we just didn’t know how far we could run with it.”
The Coyotes (10-1 overall; 6-1 SAL) on Friday were playing in the second round of the Division VII playoffs for the first time since 2006 and snapped a five-game postseason losing streak with their victory. Denair has made it to the Section championship game twice in both 1998 and 2006, but lost each time.
“It’s so crazy,” running back Hunter Musgrave said. “We always knew this team was special ever since our JV year and honestly, even last year when we didn’t do so well, we knew we’d have a future so it means a lot because we’ve put in so much work.”
The Coyotes outplayed the Reds (6-6 overall; 3-4 SAL) on offense 422 yards to 233, capitalized by a stellar night from running backs Musgrave and Steffin Winston.
Musgrave led the Coyotes’ offensive onslaught, starting the game off on a high note with a 69-yard touchdown run early in the first quarter. He finished the night with 134 yards and two touchdowns, while Winston rushed for 71 yards in the game with one touchdown and one interception on defense.
Offensive lineman Zachary Cherry picked up a touchdown of his own in the second quarter after Musgrave fumbled the ball on the one-yard line; Cherry was able to pick the ball up and throw himself into the end zone to score.
Winston’s 10-yard run came with 27 seconds left in the first half following a 27-yard field goal from Gustine to put the Coyotes up 21-3.
In the second half, Musgrave scored again on a 20-yard run. The Reds responded with a score of their own, making the score 27-10, but Denair running back Drew Pritchard answered right back on the Coyotes’ ensuing possession with an immediate 49-yard touchdown.
After a fumble recovery by Denair defensive lineman Ulises Corrales, the Coyotes scored once more on a 16-yard pass from quarterback Elvis Silva to wide receiver Scott Badal. Down 39-10, Gustine was able to score again in the game’s final two minutes and successfully completed a two-point conversion.
For Armas, Friday’s game showed not only the confidence his offense possesses — the Coyotes converted four fourth-down attempts during the game, two of which went for touchdowns — but also the vast array of talent on the team.
“I think our kids are confident and they don’t panic,” Armas said. “It makes it easier as coaches to make calls and do things, because we know they’re not going to freak out. They’re going to do what they’re supposed to do.”
Next week, the Coyotes will play against Golden Sierra in the Section title game. The game is set for Nov. 17, and both the game’s start time and location will be posted at www.cifsjs.org when decided upon.
“We’ve been taking it one game at a time. It’s finally here, and we’re going to work hard this week,” Musgrave said. “That’s going to be something we’re going to remember for the rest of our lives, so that’s going to be a big goal.”