Highlights: Denair-43 Golden Sierra-21
Denair senior running and defensive backs Hunter Musgrave and Steffin Winston are best friends and very competitive with each other.
The friendly competition was on display in the fourth quarter of the Coyotes’ CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII championship game against Golden Sierra on Saturday at Liberty Ranch High School.
With a little over two minutes left, Musgrave intercepted an Ayden Nordby pass and returned it 91 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown. Just 90 seconds after Musgrave’s score, Winston caught a deflected pass and returned it 70 yards for a score as Denair (11-1) won the school’s first section title with a 43-21 win over the Grizzlies (8-5).
“Our whole thing was to make them make plays and keep making them throw the ball,” Coyotes coach Anthony Armas said. “I would have liked to have it come sooner but in the biggest time of the year, it was great.”
Musgrave’s interception for a touchdown was the school’s first defensive score of the year and it put the game away.
“I just stayed in my zone and he made a bad decision,” Musgrave said. “I was pretty confident I would score as everyone was behind me.”
Winston’s defensive score allowed his head coach to finally relax.
“To end it like that, it took a lot off of me (pressure),” Armas said. “It’s a little more relaxing when we could do it like that.”
Winston was the star early in the game as he had a seven-yard touchdown run in the first and a four-yard run on a toss for a score in the second as the Coyotes led 13-0 with 11:54 left in the quarter. He finished the game with 18 carries for 99 yards and three rushing touchdowns.
“My offensive line was making beautiful holes for me and I was just hitting them as hard as I could,” Winston said.
Grizzlies sophomore Seth Archer scored on a one-yard touchdown run with 5:50 left in the half for Golden Sierra’s first touchdown of the day. Golden Sierra trailed 23-7 midway through the third after Winston’s third rushing touchdown and it looked like the Coyotes had put the game.
The Grizzlies scored 14 unanswered points behind a Nordby 7-yard run and an 80-yard run by Archer before Musgrave scored on a four-yard run to increase the lead to nine with 4:06 left.
“Some plays for me weren’t working early but that was OK because we were getting Steffin going,” Musgrave said. “He had a big game.”
Musgrave scored on a Statue of Liberty play where he lined up behind the quarterback, didn’t move when the ball was snapped and stayed in the same position until he received the ball and ran easily into the end zone.
“Every time we do that play, it usually works no matter what kind of defense they run,” Musgrave said. “It gives me open space.”
After going 2-8 last year, the Coyotes can now call themselves CIF champions.
“I am really happy with the guys,” Armas said. “Overall, all the kids have been resilient. It’s been inspiring for me and the coaching staff. We told them before the game, ‘do what you do and do it well and we will be fine and that’s what we did.”