After losing back-to-back league games, both the Hilmar High and Denair High varsity football teams are looking to make comebacks in the weeks to come.
With a stacked Trans-Valley League that includes a slew of tough opponents, every game of the season has playoff implications for the Yellowjackets. After falling to fellow TVL opponent Ripon High 7-3 last week, Hilmar came into Friday’s matchup against their league rival Escalon High hungry for a victory.
They fell to the Cougars 24-14 in a game that was plagued by injuries from the start, head coach Frank Marques said. Three of the team’s offensive lineman were out with injury to begin with, and two other players went down during Friday’s game.
“We’re just trying to get through some adversity I knew we would have,” Marques said. “It looks like we’re not going to get some of them for the rest of the season, so we’ve just got to make adjustments and play with who we have.”
Escalon had built up a 17-0 lead by halftime, and Hilmar tried to fight back with rushing touchdowns from Broc Perry and Cannon Irelan in the second half, but it wasn’t enough.
“Every week we're trying to get better from what we did last week, and of course when you lose it amplifies all the things you're doing wrong,” Marques said. “At the end of the day, we are glad to have the personnel where we’re able to replace people and we're going to be okay.”
Following Friday’s loss, Hilmar is now 5-2 overall and 1-2 in TVL play. After a bye this week, they’ll take on Hughson High at home at 7 p.m. Oct. 15. The Blitz will have full video coverage of the game.
In Denair, head coach Anthony Armas is teaching his players about adversity as they still look for their first win of the season. The Coyotes fell to Gustine High 23-6 last week and were defeated by Le Grand High 49-12 on Friday. After the losses, Denair is now 0-2 in Southern League play and 0-4 overall.
Denair has seen several games impacted this season by both COVID-19 quarantines and poor air quality from wildfires.
“I guess we’re getting kind of used to dealing with things going wrong over the last year and a half,” Armas said. “I don't think anybody on the team is happy with us losing, but at the same time, all of the kids understand the adversity going on right now.”
The Coyotes were able to score 12 points in the fourth quarter of Friday’s game thanks to rushing touchdowns from Harley Padilla and Hunter Kincaid. Despite the team’s record, Denair’s offense has yet to be shutout this season — a sign of resilience through all of that adversity, Armas said.
“We're starting now to finally be able to put the little wrinkles we can put in the offense that we usually do at this time of the year. We've been behind on so much because of all the stuff that's going on, so we had to really go slow at the beginning,” Armas said. “We're starting to take the training wheels off and open things up a little bit more, and we will still struggle from time to time but the kids are starting to pick up our offensive scheme a little bit better.”
On Friday, the Coyotes will travel to Mariposa County High to take on the Grizzlies at 7:15 p.m.