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Despite late rally, Denair falls to Mariposa
Juan Barrera stays clear of his Mariposa opponent and picks up several yards for the Coyotes Friday. Although Denair made a close comeback in the 3rd quarter Mariposa beat them 26-20. - photo by CANDY PADILLA / The Journal

Denair High hosted the Mariposa County Grizzlies on Friday night and was unable to come away with a victory after Mariposa’s strong first half.

The coyotes (2-3 overall, 1-1 SAL) opened the game by recovering an onside kick, followed by big-gain plays later from Juan Barrera that brought Denair to the Grizzlies’ 37-yard line—shortly before the team upped their allotment on downs.

Mariposa County High (3-1 overall, 2-0 SAL) announced their presence with authority as their opening play resulted in a pass from Jake Mayberry to Zack Smith for a touchdown and first score on the board.

Barrera answered shortly after when he rushed wide up the left side of the field for a 55-yard run that put his team at the 10-yard line, eventually setting up Chase Pritt to punch in the touchdown from three-yards out.

“I think we were gritty tonight,” said Anthony Armas, head coach for Denair. “We made a few mental mistakes, but I was proud of the kids as far as the effort.”

The Grizzlies stayed hot in the first half with Jake Williams breaking the plane for a touchdown with 4 minutes left in the first quarter, followed by an interception from Mayberry as the Coyotes attempted to push the ball down the other side of the field.  Josh Lamb scored for Mariposa County that same drive with a carry that put the score at 20-6 with less than two minutes left in the first quarter.

The Grizzlies’ final touchdown for the night came from a pass completion to Preston Scherf from about 25 yards out.

Coach Armas commented that without the few mental mistakes his team made in the first half, it would have been a different ball game.

Justin Steeley rushed for 95-yards Friday night—85 of them from his touchdown run with 2:38 left in the first half.

“At first I saw everyone going away from the play so I thought there was a penalty,” said Steeley. “I had started jogging and then I didn’t hear a whistle so I just took off—I don’t think I’ve ever ran that fast in my life.”

Barrera had a huge night as well, rushing for 223 yards and scoring a touchdown for the Coyotes with six minutes left in the third quarter, capping scores for the night at 26-20 Mariposa County.

“We had a few mistakes in the beginning but fixed some things at half time,” said Armas. “We got dinged up a little and a couple guys got injured... but we grinded it out at the end, it just didn’t go our way I guess.”

A hard hit with 11 minutes left in the fourth took Pritt out of the game, with a questionable start for next week.  The Coyotes will be away next week at 7:30 p.m. against Gustine High.

“Mariposa came in thinking they were going to steamroll us and they thought wrong—we really came together as a team,” said Steeley. “We’re going to get our fundamentals down and just get better every day.”