Coyotes unable to slow down Apaches
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera’s Ramon Ruiz Jr. dives into the end zone to score the second of Madera’s two touchdowns in Friday’s loss to the Sanger Apaches.
The County/Metro Athletic Conference is a dogfight week in and week out.
Friday night proved that notion correct when the Madera Coyotes football team ran into a roadblock in the form of the Sanger Apaches. After back-to-back one possession games, the Coyotes were ready to earn a statement win on the road but the home team had other ideas.
Sanger scored the first 28 points en route to a 35-12 victory Friday night.
“This is one of the better football teams that we stepped onto the field with this year and they do a really good job. They are well coached they are physical as all get out so, you know you have your hands full when you show up here,” Madera head coach Kenny Paolinelli said.
The Apaches held the Coyotes to under 250 yards of total offense and forced Madera standout David Zavala into multiple turnovers. Wideout Logan Wattenbarger was unable to flash his big-play potential with only three catches and running back Jeremiah Sanchez was bottled up, forcing him into negative yards.
Overall, the Coyotes offense had trouble moving the ball, but did find their footing in the second half, outscoring Sanger 12-7.
“I think we proved to ourselves that we can play with that level of opponent and Bullard gave these guys a dogfight so we know we are going to have our hands full with them as well,” Paolinelli said. “There is no easy team in the CMAC and that’s the thing. It’s a love-hate relationship. You want to compete at the highest level, but you know you are in for a dogfight every week.”
The first drive of the game for Madera foreshadowed what was to come for the 1-1 CMAC team. Fresh off a one-possession win over Madera South, the Sanger Apaches posed a different set of challenges.
Maybe the biggest factor was the Coyotes had to stop practice early in the year while the Sanger Apaches were able to continue practice throughout the pause.
And as you can probably guess, the Apaches came out ready and seasoned as if they were playing all season long.
The Apaches scored behind a rushing touchdown by Morgan Privett and again, after Apaches quarterback John Peña hit Isaiah Becerril for a 30-yard touchdown.
The Coyotes found themselves down early 14-0 and couldn’t climb themselves out after the Apaches answered with two more scores in the first half.
Madera needed a spark, but couldn’t find one until the second half. Both the Coyote offense and defense woke up after a slow first half.
Led by a strong performance from the defense that forced a turnover and held the Apaches to a single score, the Coyotes salvaged the night and were able to put some positives on tape for a tough game this next Friday against Bullard.
“Our group of seniors, they have a unique bond. We have a lot of guys who have been playing with each other for years,” defensive coordinator Tim Mejia said. “Sanger just happened to have a break at times and we made some mistakes throughout the game, but as you can see in the second half, our kids were locked in. When we are flying around and making plays, we can compete with anybody. That first half wasn’t a representation of what this team is.”
The Coyotes got it going in the third quarter after a forced fumble inside the Sanger red zone gave Madera a chance trailing 28-0.
Adam Landero scooped up the loose football, setting up an eight-yard touchdown pass as Zavala rifled a pass into Wattenbarger, which deflected off his hands and into the end zone where Raul Medrano was waiting.
The extra point kick was no good and Madera cut the deficit 28-6.
After a late Sanger score in the fourth, Zavala and the Coyotes marched nine plays downfield culminating in a nine-yard touchdown pass to Ramon Ruiz Jr. , the second on the night for Zavala.
Madera went for two, but couldn’t convert giving the ball back to Sanger, who ran out the clock for a 35-12 victory.