Benny Munoz/The Madera Tribune
Madera’s Raul Medrano hangs onto the ball despite getting flipped upside-down to score the game-winning touchdown to give head coach Kenny Paolinelli his first career victory Friday against the Mission Oak Hawks.
Madera Coyotes quarterback Isaiah Martinez was desperate to get back on the field after separating his shoulder during a 7-on-7 tournament over the summer.
Martinez especially became anxious in the second game of the season against Mission Oak, watching from the sidelines as his team failed to score any points in the first half.
“[Martinez] came to me at halftime,” Madera head coach Kenny Paolinelli said. “He looked me in the eye and said, ‘Coach, put in me. I know I can do it.’”
Paolinelli trusted his senior quarterback and put him in the game in the third quarter.
With Martinez leading the way, the Coyotes found their groove in the second half and put together a last minute drive to beat the Mission Oak-Tulare Hawks 14-7 at Memorial Stadium on Friday.
“After I gave him the opportunity, he stepped in and relished in the moment,” Paolinelli said. “He is one of our team captains and no one has out-worked that kid for the last three years, so it was so special to see him come in and have success.”
For Paolinelli, it was his first win as the new head coach of the Coyotes.
“It was a culmination of all our hard work,” Paolinelli said. “The adversity they faced and the way they came together as a family, that’s what we have been preaching all offseason. To see them execute at the most crucial time, it really warmed my heart.”
With the game scoreless in the fourth quarter, Madera senior Trevor Ervin picked off a Mission Oak’s pass which set up the Coyotes at the Hawks’ 22.
“Trevor Ervin came up with a big play. Again, another senior who didn’t get to play last year,” Paolinelli said. “I’m so happy to see him make that play because he missed out on last year and now he’s back and he’s making that play.”
Following the interception, junior running back Jeremiah Sanchez carried the ball to the eight-yard line. Martinez connected with Marco Lopez on the next play to set up the Coyotes at the one-yard line.
With Sanchez punching it in from a yard out, the Coyotes took a 6-0 lead after a missed extra point.
The Hawks converted a fourth-down on their next possession to keep their drive alive.
Hawks quarterback Matt Ordunez then found Beau Ariaga in the corner of the endzone, helping the Hawks take a 7-6 lead with an extra point.
With two minutes left in the game, Martinez scrambled for five yards to convert a third down.
Junior Raul Medrano then made a 30-yard catch-and-run, which was called back because of a penalty.
Still, the Coyotes regrouped and picked up another first down.
With the ball at the 15-yard line and 52 seconds left, Martinez found Medrano in the endzone. This time, Medrano’s catch counted and gave the Coyotes a 12-6 lead.
Martinez connected with Medrano, again for the two point conversio,n, making it 14-7.
“[Medrano] was telling me all night, ‘Coach, give me the ball,’” Paolinelli said. “I trust my guys. It was fun to see him take that.”
Facing a third-and-long on the final drive, Ordunez tried to scramble out of trouble, but the Coyotes swarmed the quarterback to force a fumble and seal the win.
“This is why you coach, for games like this, to see players execute and have success,” Paolinelli said. “It’s really fun to see all the hard work come to fruition.”
The Coyotes totaled 246 yards in the game, including 129 passing and 117 rushing. Mission Oak finished with 193 total yards, including 159 passing and 34 rushing.