Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera quarterback Colt Nelson releases a pass despite pressure from Mendota during Friday’s scrimmage.
The 2017 football season began on the right foot for the Madera Coyotes after a dominant showing in their first action of the season in a scrimmage against the Mendota Aztecs after an opening drive touchdown set them on their way.
Quarterback Colt Nelson and his receiving partner Jerry Hernandez proved to be the difference after they combined for a touchdown and multiple completions deep down the field. Hernandez not only showed his quality on offense, but also had a key interception on defense.
Although the score and stats weren’t kept for the scrimmage, Coyote head football coach Yosef Fares wanted to focus on certain aspects of his football team.
“I was really looking at our physicality,” Fares said. “Mendota is a physical football team. Coach (Beto) Mejia does a very good job of making them physical, so I wanted to see our physicality matched up to theirs. We also talked about not being intimidated and intimidating others.”
With the opening game of the season now only a week away, position battles are still heating up for the Coyotes, Fares said.
“We have a lot of battles going on at the safety position and the corner position, in particular,” Fares said. “We also have a lot of battles going on at the outside backer position as well as running back. So there were some good battles going on and we got a lot of stuff on film.”
Jay Regua opened the scrimmage with a run down the heart of the Aztec defense that picked up 10 yards. He finished the game with a handful of touches and two touchdowns to strengthen his place in the starting lineup.
Nelson opened with consecutive accurate passes to Hernandez and Josiah Velazquez. Nelson navigated a crowded pocket early on to lead the Coyotes to an opening-drive touchdown after two costly penalties.
The drive, capped off by a 20-yard strike to Hernandez proved to be a productive start to the new season.
Defensively, the Coyotes started off hot with back-to-back stops. The Aztecs relied on power runs and sweep plays, but the Coyote defense sniffed out three straight downs to force a three-and-out. The team’s discipline proved to be a constant throughout the game.
The first quarter ended in the blink of an eye with the Coyote defense only on the field for three snaps while their offense was able to work its way up and down the field with ease.
The Coyotes offense sputtered after the same explosiveness exhibited on the first possession died out momentarily.
The offense would get back on track after a crowd-cheering play by the early standouts, Nelson and Hernandez. Nelson danced in the pocket before he fired a pinpoint pass into the hands of Hernandez after he darted across the middle of the field leaving his defender sprawling on the ground.
His gallop down the middle of the field gained 40 yards and set up the Coyotes for a scoring chance inside the red zone.
Hernandez wasn’t finished though after he intercepted a lofted pass by the opposing quarterback to give his team the ball on the opponent 30-yard line, the half expiring in the process.
The Coyotes entered the locker room filled with confidence after scoring twice in the first half.
After a penalty negated a big gain for the visiting team, Steven Sibley jumped up and picked off the errant pass and returned it 20 yards for the touchdown.
The Coyotes pushed their lead to 21 points to begin the second half.
The Coyote offense continued to move the ball with ease after a 20 yard completion to Velazquez.
In the fourth quarter, the Coyotes put in quarterback Raelon Hill and the offense didn’t miss a beat. After overcoming multiple holding penalties, Hill was able to find his receiver for a screen that went to the house.