Football finds its way back
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera’s Raul Medrano is excited after scoring the first touchdown of the season during the Coyotes’ 49-0 thrashing of the Hoover Patriots in the season opener Friday night on Lee DaSilva Field in Memorial Stadium.
More than 15 months since their last contest, the Madera Coyotes football team returned to Memorial Stadium, trouncing the visiting Hoover Patriots 45-0 to open the delayed 2020 season in 2021.
Friday night’s contest was a breath of fresh air and a step toward normalcy, not only for the players and coaches, but for the many families that fill the bleachers nightly.
“Just looking at the kids really makes this all so important. Seeing their faces, the excitement and just the joy to be back out here is what it’s all about,” Madera High Athletic Director John Fernandez said. “It’s very uplifting to be able to provide these kids this opportunity.”
After countless starts and stops, uncertainty around if a season would be possible, Friday night became a beacon of hope, not only for the Coyotes staff and players, but for the community itself.
For Madera head coach Kenny Paolinelli, getting a win was important, but just having a chance to play might’ve been the biggest victory.
And for the seniors, a proper send off is now in the cards.
“It was really exciting and a super big rush of emotion to see the players and the fans out there at home for the first time,” Paolinelli said. “I see them every day and I’ve seen the ups and downs going through this pandemic and what it has done to these kids. To give them this opportunity, the way everyone came together (custodial staff, coaching staff, district admin and the athletic director) is just surreal and I’m really happy we were able to give them this moment.”
Behind a dominant performance between the Coyote trio of David Zavala, Raul Medrano and Jeremiah Sanchez, Madera opened their 2021 season in style. The three powered Madera to a positive home opener. With Edison around the corner, the Coyotes look to make a statement within the County/Metro Athletic Conference.
Senior quarterback Zavala opened the scoring for the Coyotes late in the first quarter with a deep strike to playmaker Medrano for 48 yards. The pair were in sync as Medrano found space for the explosive play.
After a steady year his junior season, Zavala looked to seize the opportunity in 2021 and he impressed both his coaches and fans.
The Coyotes defense stood tall and handed the ball back to Zavala and the offense. The offense found the endzone to close out the first quarter as Sanchez took a handoff the left tackle and into the endzone, the Coyotes missed the two-point conversion to lead 12-0.
Sanchez continued his strong night driving the ball downfield with the help from fellow back Ramon Ruiz. The two carried the rock, weakening the Hoover front seven.
Their tireless effort opened up passing lanes for Zavala.
The senior eluded three Hoover tacklers to scramble out of the pocket where he found Logan Wattenbarger towards the sideline, giving Zavala an outlet to throw. Madera escaped the loss of yards and set themselves up in the red zone.
Zavala later tried to finish the drive with a keeper but was denied on the one-yard line. Sanchez later punched it in from one yard out.
Coyotes clawed out to a 20-point lead after Zavala hit Ruiz in the back of the endzone to convert the two-point conversion.
Medrano made an impact on defense after he picked off the Hoover quarterback in the endzone giving Madera the ball back on the 20-yard line with three minutes left in the half.
Sanchez continued to shoulder the load after a strong 12-yard carry opened the drive.
Zavala followed with a deep shot to Medrano for 68 yards and a score. Madera added a two-point score after a Zavala keeper for a 28-0 lead.
Jayson Ruiz followed up on defense after he sacked the Hoover signal caller, wrecking the drive and giving Madera another shot to add points before the break.
Zavala had less than two minutes on the clock and used his arms and legs to get the Coyotes back into position.
Zavala escaped pressure for a 15-yard scramble and followed with back-to-back accurate throws. Zavala hung tough in the pocket, picking apart the Hoover secondary.
If not for a holding call in the red zone, Zavala would have had a running score, but threw for a touchdown later in the drive.
On third-and-11, the Coyotes put the ball in the hands of their two seniors Zavala and Medrano. Medrano popped out for a dump pass and took it into the endzone.
Madera led by 35 points in the half and coasted to a dominant 49-0 victory.
Although Paolinelli was former Madera quarterback and offensive star, the zero points on the board made him happiest.
“I’d much rather have the zero on the scoreboard and it just shows how well out defensive played tonight and we have things to work on but it was a really good start to the season,” Paolinelli said.