A Madera ball carrier runs for a first down during Friday’s scrimmage with Clovis. (Wendy Alexander)
After holding its own in a scrimmage against a top team in Division I, the Madera Coyotes football team is ready for the real thing Friday night in the season opener in Los Banos.
The Coyotes, according to head coach Yosef Fares, went into Friday’s scrimmage against the Clovis Cougars knowing their reputation as one of the best and toughest teams in the Central Valley, and came out confident about the season, ready to improve their weak spots before the season begins.
“What I really like is our tempo out of the huddle and to the ball,” Fares said. “I liked our physicality. We were very physical with a quality opponent. And I liked that we were not intimidated.”
Fares also stated his confidence in Madera’s offensive game, citing his faith in quarterback Jay Hernandez, and running backs Dakota Torres and Josh McMillon. He also emphasized his confidence in three-back Eric “Shorty” Escobar, whom Fares has described as being the “workhorse” of Coyotes’ offense. For his part, Escobar has stated his readiness for the season.
“I’m definitely ready,” said Escobar, a senior. “I’ve been waiting all summer. We did a lot of work to be prepared for the first game.”
This does not mean, however, that the Coyotes do not have their hurdles to overcome, and Fares said he found aspects of the team that have room for improvement.
“We gotta improve on the offensive line on sustaining blocks at the second level,” Fares said. “I thought we got to our guy. We got off the ball, We got there fast. It’s just that they were able to get off the blocks a little quicker than we’d like.”
The scrimmage, according to Fares, also revealed some finetuning that could be used in Madera’s defense.
“Also, our linebackers need to get better at keying guards,” he said. “It’s a new concept to them, so they kind of resorted back to their old ways. So we’re trying to implement, and pound it in that they eed to watch where the guards go.”
Even so, the Coyotes were short two of their best players. Fares said their spots were filled in and well played by their backups.
“We need to keep working on our perimeter defense,” he said. “We were without two of our best players that night on defense: Michael Green, and Justin Landero. But the guys that stepped in there did a great job. They got great, quality reps. One of our boys, Nick Collier, played a heck of a game, and moved up the depth chart.”
Collier, a strong safety, filled in for Landero during the scrimmage, while Angel Vasquez, a nickel back, stepped in for Green.
Last year, Madera High beat the Los Banos Tigers 38-37, a victory they pulled off by blocking a field goal. Now, with the scrimmage against Clovis under their belt, and a rigorous summer of practice, Fares said that he is ready to go into Los Banos on Friday, and is ready for another win against the Tigers.
“We feel that, with our weight program, and our summer conditioning, and our off-season development, we feel that we’re gonna walk into this game pretty prepared, as best as we can to try to get a win.”