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Coyotes down Stallions in showdown

Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune

Madera’s Jeremiah Sanchez tries to escape the grasp of Madera South’s Bryce Walters during Friday’s victory over the Stallions in the Stadium Road Showdown. Sanchez rushed for 154 yards and a touchdown in the win.


The Madera Coyotes football team emerged victorious over the Madera South Stallions, 35-28, in the latest installment of the Stadium Road Showdown.

The Coyotes celebrated on the field after the game, but Friday night’s matchup between next-door rivals Madera and Madera South showcased two football programs on the rise.

After dropping their CMAC opener against the Edison-Fresno Tigers in a game they had a chance to win, Madera responded with a gutty win over the Stallions. It doesn’t get any easier with a trip to Sanger to take on the Apaches.

“It doesn’t matter what the records are, who the players are, these schools just love to battle on the field,” Madera head coach Kenny Paolinelli said. “We definitely have pride in keeping the saw here and that is the yearly goal for us. We want to make sure it is here and prove that we are the best team in Madera and that’s kind of what this game is played for.”

The Coyotes scored 35 points and generated over 500 yards of total offense Friday. Their trio of stars each showcased their talents on the field: Quarterback David Zavala threw for 240 yards with two touchdowns and rushed for over 80 yards. Jeremiah Sanchez carried the ball 26 times for a total of 154 yards and a touchdown. Receiver Logan Wattenbarger caught seven passes for 146 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter that helped Madera tame the Stallions.

Despite the offensive production from the Coyotes’ skill positions, you could make a case for the Coyotes offensive line, who played a pivotal role throughout Friday’s contest.

“We put a lot of weight on our offensive line. They are a very tenacious and active group and they kind of fuel us offensively to get us going,” Paolinelli said. “It is a testament to our coaching staff. Coach Campbell has done a great job with those guys creating that attitude and that is our identity as an offense.

“We want to get the ball moving on the ground, physically punish people and we have the guys to go over the top once they start loading the box. Raul Medrano and David do a great job of taking his shots in timely situations.”

Despite losing the contest and going home without the saw, the Madera South Stallions proved a point to their rivals. Coming into the matchup with only a single game played, the Stallions came out and gave the Coyotes everything they had.

Madera South matched Madera from the first minute to the very last behind a rushing attack that nearly eclipsed 200 yards and a stout defense that kept Madera South in the game.

“Tonight was more about what kind of fight do the Stallions have. After our second game and four weeks of leveled practice, and every year they never surprise me. They lay it all on the line in this game every year,” Madera South head coach Matt Johnson said. “It was special and we would’ve loved to have won and had moments where we could’ve closed it, but Madera is a good football team. I’m proud of my guys.”

The Stallions have not only bought into Johnson and his philosophy, but more so the Madera South tradition. As the boys soccer team showed just a few years back, talent without commitment won’t put you in reach of your goals.

“The culture is getting right football-wise. Our guys are showing up to practice, taking care of business and it’s showing on the field,” Johnson said. “Not only are they becoming better football players, but they can look back at these moments where they overcome and did their best, and I think they will become better men as well.”

Madera South was led by quarterback Jessie Ford who displayed both his legs and arm. Passing for 52 yards and a touchdown and rushing 15 times for 50 yards, the Stallions quarterback orchestrated four touchdown drives, keeping Madera South in striking distance.

The Stallions worked well within their run game, producing Tayte Grantham’s 40 yard touchdown run on a day where he rushed for 72 yards and Erik Cervantez, who finished with 55 yards including, a receiving touchdown.

Despite coming up short, Madera South got on the board early with a 40-yard scamper by Grantham just three plays into the game.

Up by seven points, the Stallions defense went to work, but found the same fate as their counterparts as Zavala and the Coyotes marched down the field.

Nine plays later, including five straight run plays to cap off the drive, the Coyotes punched the ball in from eight yards courtesy of Sanchez. Madera had four consecutive run plays for 10 yards or more between Wattenbarger, Sanchez and Zavala.

All tied at 7-7, Madera forced a Stallion punt before going 14 plays down the field to take a 14-7 lead. Zavala found Wattenbarger for a 21-yard pass. The pair hooked up earlier in the drive for a 15-yard play on third-and-six from the 46-yard line.

Madera South answered with a touchdown shortly after. Cervantez took a short handoff over 50 yards, alluding multiple Coyote defenders. The Stallions were set up in the red zone where Ford found Angelo Moreno for a six-yard touchdown, tying the game at 14.

The Coyotes had much more to say in the second quarter and showcased their big-play ability as well with a 40-yard pass from Zavala to Wattenbarger, which set up a four-yard run for Zavala for a 21-14 lead.

Madera forced the Stallions to punt on the following drive, but muffed the punt return setting Madera South up in the red zone. Ford capitalized with an eight-yard touchdown to Cervantez to tie the game.

Madera South kicked off and Madera allowed the ball bounce in play. Cervantez scooped up the ball in the end zone for a Stallions’ touchdown and a 28-21 lead.

The Stallions scored 14 points in a matter of seconds, putting the game back in their grasp.

However, Zavala and company had different plans as they drove down the field within less than a minute to tie the game at 28 behind a 10-yard run by Zavala. Zavala passed four times on the drive for a total of 56 yards to put Madera in a position to tie the game.

Both teams headed into the break tied 28-28, but fans and teams alike didn’t see another score until the game-winning drive late in the game.

After forcing the Stallions to turn the ball over on downs, the Coyotes took the ball and marched six plays down the field, culminating in a game-winning touchdown pass to Medrano from 35 yards out midway through the fourth quarter.



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