Coyotes end 2021 season on low note
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera quarterback Raul Medrano finds a lane during Friday’s loss to the San Joaquin Memorial Panthers. Medrano usually is the one catching the football, but an injury to the starter forced Medrano to play quarterback.
The Madera Coyotes football team, still dealing with injuries from its loss to Bullard, failed to find a rhythm in a 42-14 season-ending loss to the San Joaquin Memorial-Fresno Panthers.
Coyote receiver Raul Medrano stepped in for quarterback David Zavala, who was nursing a hip injury, and threw for a 57-yard touchdown pass. Despite the score, Madera added a second touchdown in the final quarter, but down 35 at the time, the Coyotes were unable to claw back.
After a tumultuous start due to COVID-19 to begin the 2021 season that included over a year break in terms of getting back onto the field, the Coyotes finally closed out the season with high hopes for later this year.
With the prospects of a more normal offseason and preseason, the Coyotes only look to build off both the positives and negatives throughout the shortened season.
Madera finished the season 2-5, with wins over Madera South, 35-28, and Hoover, 49-0.
But, the Coyotes faced a slate that featured some of the best teams in the Central Valley and County/Metro Athletic Conference including Clovis, Sanger, Bullard-Fresno, Edison-Fresno and San Joaquin Memorial.
Madera’s schedule featured a road trip that included three of the teams top teams in the section. Despite coming up short, the Coyotes showed flashes of brilliance as the defense and offense showed that CMAC opponents are not a matter of “if” Madera can beat them but “when.”
Injuries came to a head for the Coyotes with Zavala going down against Bullard, but the Coyotes continued to fight on to the season’s end.
The two-sport athlete’s injury opened the door for Medrano to show what he could do behind center and against a stout Panther defense. The natural receiver showcased a strong arm that resulted in a Coyotes’ touchdown.
Memorial and Madera opened Friday’s contest on even terms, trading punts before the Coyotes took an early 7-0 lead.
Medrano dropped back to pass, side stepped the Panthers’ rush and found Ruiz down the left sideline from the 43-yard-line.
Ruiz collected the ball before turning up field. The shifty running back spun past two Panther defenders and into open field where he walked into the end zone, leading Madera to an early 7-0 lead.
Both the Madera fan section and the Panthers’ section was in disbelief. From the inch-perfect throw, to the agile footwork that followed, the Coyotes shocked the stadium scoring first, but the momentum quickly swung back in favor of the Panthers.
Madera’s score seemingly galvanized the Panthers as they went on to score 48 unanswered points. Memorial led 28-7 at halftime before adding 14 points in the second half while simultaneously shutting the Coyotes out.
Medrano and Ruiz had the lone score, but Logan Wattenbarger, Jeremiah Sanchez and the Coyotes’ skill positions did their best to move the chains against an immovable Panthers defense.
Madera was able to find the end zone again behind Sanchez, but down 35 points in the final minutes that allowed Madera very few chances to get back.
It’s no secret the Panthers have an edge with the ability to recruit, but Madera hung tough and fought throughout the contest.
Despite a 2-5 season, Madera has much to build on. From a strong defensive second-half showing against eventual CMAC champions Sanger, to a lights out offensive performance against Hoover and Madera South, the Coyotes have much to be proud about after overcoming an irregular season.
With former Madera Coyotes star Kenny Paolinelli at the helm, Madera can only go up from here and with a full season ahead of the team, the CMAC has another threat at the title.