NFL, NBA, NHL stats

Central Valley Coyotes game notes

March 23, 2004 - arenafootball2 (af2) - Central Valley Coyotes News Release


Date: Saturday, March 27, 2004
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. PST
Site: Selland Arena (artificial turf)
Capacity: 8,911

(Fresno, CA) – The Coyotes kick-off the 2004 af2 regular season, welcoming the 2003 West Division champion Hawaiian Islanders to the Selland Arena Saturday night. This will be the seventh match-up between the two clubs with Central Valley leading the all-time series 4-2. The Central Valley Coyotes recently relocated from Bakersfield last season and were the Bakersfield Blitz. The Coyotes will assume all records and stats from the Blitz.

Central Valley will open up the 2004 season at home for the first time in the franchises existence. The Coyotes are currently 1-1 on opening day with both games being played on the road, while the Islanders are 2-0 on opening day with both games being played at home. Both the Coyotes and the Islanders were post-season contenders last year and each team is looking to build on that momentum heading into the 2004 season.

The Coyotes are surrounded by a lot of new faces on the field as well as in the front office. After current Operator and CEO George Chung along with the Tachi Yokut Tribe moved the Bakersfield franchise to Fresno, CA, their first move was to hire former San Diego Riptide Head Coach Cree Morris. Morris will lead the 2004 Coyotes into the season on the quest for the ArenaCup.


Cree Morris takes over at the helm of the Central Valley Coyotes franchise, after spending the past two seasons with the San Diego Riptide. Morris will have the tasks of leading the Coyotes back to the West Division title, and getting the franchise past the first round of the playoffs. Morris has surrounded himself with an incredible coaching staff in assistant head coach, Fred Biletnikoff Jr., defensive coordinator Doug Murray and line coach Sean Kelly.

As the Riptide’s first head coach and former Orange Glen High School quarterback Cree Morris, has playing
experience with the NFL, Arena Football League and the World League. Morris also played collegiate football with San Diego State and St. Mary’s College.

Morris, 32, led Orange Glen to a 12-1 record his senior year in 1988, finishing second in the state in passing with over 3,000 yards and 30 TDs. He was named Palomar League Offensive Player of the Year, First-Team All-CIF and Honorable Mention All-State.

He spent three years at San Diego State, where he had the rare distinction of throwing Darnay Scott his first collegiate touchdown and handing Marshall Faulk his first collegiate carry in the same game — a 49-13 win over Cal State Long Beach on 9/8/1991.

In 1992, Morris transferred to Division II St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California, where he earned a B.A. in Health, Fitness and Recreation with an emphasis on teaching. In two seasons with the Gaels, he threw for 3,451 yards and 24 TDs, as well as six rushing scores. He is listed 16 times in the school’s all-time record books after leading them to consecutive winning seasons in just 15 starts.

He participated in the training camp of the Los Angeles Raiders in 1994. In April of 1995, Morris signed with the San Jose SaberCats of the Arena Football League, however, the St. Louis Rams invited him to their training camp. In 1996, Morris spent a season in the World League of American Football with the London Monarchs.

The following year, Morris began his two-year Arena career spending a year and half with the Arena League’s San Jose SaberCats (1997-98) and finishing his career with the Iowa
Barnstormers (1998).

Following his playing career, Morris focused on bringing Arena football to the San Diego area.

He has served as an assistant coach at John Swett High in the Bay Area (1994), his alma mater Orange Glen (1997-98) and Castle Park High (2000-01).

He’s married to Stephanie, who he has been dating since they were 12. On December 8, they had their first child, Noah Trey.

The Hawaiian Islanders finished the first af2 season with a bang, leaving players and fans with plenty of optimism for season two.

Then, their hopes skyrocketed. Perhaps the biggest news in the franchise’s young history came October 23, 2002, when Cal Lee officially announced his decision to join the team as its head coach. He is, hands down, the most prolific football coach in Hawaii high school history. Under his guidance and tutelage—and he has always been the first to praise his dedicated, veteran coaching staff—Lee brought the previously middling football program at Saint Louis High School into national prominence.

In his 21 years as a head coach at St. Louis, his teams compiled a 241-32-5 record, which includes 18 Interscholastic League of Honolulu championships (1983-84, 1986-2001), 14 Oahu Prep Bowl titles (1983, 1986-1998) and the inaugural HHSAA State Championship (1999).

Several of Lee’s Crusader teams were ranked among the elite nationally during his era. He was named National Coach of the Year by The Sporting News in 1995 and the National Federation of State High School Associations in 2000.

His success on the field didn’t come quickly. Saint Louis needed a few seasons to accelerate the pace of improvement, and along the way, Lee also became the school’s athletic director. His background, however, was a major plus. Lee graduated from Kalani High School and went on to become a national small-college All-American linebacker at Willamette (Ore.).

Upon returning to Hawaii, he eventually teamed up with brother Ron, the architect of the Run & Shoot offense at Kaiser High School in the ’70s. A defensive coordinator at heart, Cal brought the same offense to Saint Louis, realizing the potential and the explosiveness of the attack. He brings the same aggressive, but calm demeanor and philosophy of the game to the Islanders. He already knows at least one familiar face: quarterback Darnell Arceneaux, who helped lead Saint Louis to a Prep Bowl championship in the mid-’90s.

Turning a competitive team into a champion is what Cal knows best, and staying on top is what he has excelled at for decades. Optimism has a home with the Islanders and their fans.


The af2 season opener between the two clubs will be the seventh match-up all time between the Central Valley Coyotes and the Hawaiian Islanders. The last time the two teams me was last year during Week 16, with the Coyotes winning 75-61 in Hawaii. The Coyotes lead the series 4-2.

Series History to Date:
2002 – Blitz, 52-32 (at Hawaii)
Blitz, 56-48 (at Bakersfield)
Islanders, 49-35 (at Hawaii)
2003 – Blitz, 58-43 (at Bakersfield)
Islanders, 50-48 (at Hawaii)
Blitz, 75-61 (at Hawaii)

At A Glance:
 Defensive lineman Ricky Leung-Wai led the Coyotes’ pass rush with 9.5 sacks in 2003, while defensive end Taulia Lave had 2.5 sacks for Hawaii.

 The Coyotes’ offense ranked 21st in the af2 last season, and the Islanders ranked 12th. Central Valley’s 43.6 points per game were 18th best in the league in 2002, and Hawaii’s 46.1 points per game were good for the 10th spot. The Coyotes were 17th in passing offense and 21st in rushing, while the Islanders were 27th in passing and lead the af2 in rushing last season.

 Central Valley continues to have one of the strongest defenses in the af2, finishing last season ranked 3rd overall in total defense. The Coyotes led the af2 in pass defense allowing only 183.3 yards a game through the air. In the run department Central Valley ranked 26th. The Hawaiian Islanders ranked 16th in the league in pass defense last season, allowing 228.2 yards per game. In run defense the Islanders ranked 8th in 2003.

 The Coyotes are 1-1 on opening day with both games being on the road, while the Islanders are 2-0 on opening day with both games being at home.


As the Coyotes and Islanders meet for the seventh time this Saturday night at the Selland Arena, there will be a Couple familiar faces on both sides of the ball.

On the collegiate level, Coyotes offensive defensive lineman Dempsey Davis and Islanders wide receiver/linebacker Gabe Amey played together at Menlo College. Central Valley rookie quarterback Kyle Biggs and Islanders offensive/defensive lineman Tiki Sagapolutele played together at New Mexico Highlands.



The Bakersfield Blitz rode the back of Eric Mahanke Sunday night, as they cruised to a 75-61 win over the Hawaiian Islanders. A crowd of 3,988 watched as Mahanke pulled in seven touchdown passes in the winning effort.

The Blitz (8-7-1) took a 14-point lead and never relinquished it as they improved to 8-7-1 and will be seeded fifth in the upcoming af2 playoffs and travel to Arkansas. Hawaii falls to 10-6 on the year and will host sixth seeded Wichita Friday.

Hawaii rested defensive special Eddie Klaneski and Bakersfield took full advantage. “You can tell that with Eddie (Klaneski) out, they had to change things up,” said Bakersfield head coach, James Fuller: “We knew that with Klaneski out of there, they had to play a little bit more zone, because he’s the man in the middle, so we just sent some guys deep and dumped the ball off short and decided to get some yards after the catch.”

Hawaii’s opening drive ended with a 51-yard field goal attempt by Kimo Naehu that was wide left. Bakersfield, in turn, fumbled away their opportunity. With fourth and goal from the Islanders’ 1-yard line, Chad Elliot’s pitch left was fumbled by fullback, Nathan Buergey, who recovered it and turned it over.

The Blitz, however, would go on to score on their next seven possessions. Elliot completed a 41-yard score to Ryan Sloth before handing off to Nick Onaindia for a three-yard touchdown jaunt.

Mahanke then simply went on a tear. He was on the receiving end of Elliot’s next seven touchdown passes.
“We really wanted this one for Julian,” said Mahanke. “You could feel all the emotion out there,” said Josh White. “You could see it in their eyes and the way they played the game.”

The Former Fresno State receiver already had 101 yards on six receptions in the first half. Elliot completed 11 of his 12 passes in the first half for 187 yards with six touchdowns.

He finished with 253 yards on 16 completions out of 24 attempts with just one interception. Mahanke finished with nine catches for 139 yards and seven touchdowns.

“(Mahanke) and Elliot have a connection,” said Fuller. “I call the play and they have the option to check it and they did a good job with that tonight.”

Fuller added, “He has good body control and he positions himself well to make catches.”
Mike Tillis came in the second half for Arceneaux and right away led Hawaii to a pair of scores. The first came on a 33-yard strike to Isaac White then a 27-yard touchdown pass to Darrick Branch that cut the Blitz’ lead to 19 points.

On the Blitz’ ensuing play, Elliot was intercepted by Hawaii’s Kohei Satomi. Bakersfield was then flagged for a personal foul, followed by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Blitz head coach James Fuller. Hawaii would capitalize as they scored on a nine-play drive capped off by Josh White’s 1-yard plunge into the end zone. Naehu’s extra point would cut the deficit to just 12 points with just over 11 minutes to play.
However, it was the classic case of too little, too late. Mahanke added his seventh touchdown reception just for good measure late in the game to lead the Blitz to the 75-61 win.
Bakersfield will go to Arkansas next week, while Hawaii will host Wichita Friday night in the first round of the playoffs.


MAKING THE JUMP: The Central Valley Coyotes have been fortunate enough to progress three players to the Arena Football League. Former wide receiver/defensive back Ryan Sloth is now with the Columbus Destroyers, current franchise leading tackler J’Sharlon Jones is with the Philadelphia Soul and current quarterback Johnny Turman is with the Indiana Firebirds.

COYOTES IN THE RANKINGS: Here’s a look at how the Coyotes finished in the league rankings last season.
Category NC Ranking af2 Ranking

Total Offense 12 21
Rushing 11 21
Passing 8 17
Total Defense 2 3
Against Rush 12 26
Against Pass 1 1

WILD WILD WEST: In 2004 the West Division was realigned back to its original format in 2002, which featured the San Diego Riptide, the Bakersfield Blitz, the Hawaiian Islanders and the Central Valley Coyotes. Each franchise in the West will play all divisional opponents four times (twice at home, and twice on the road). This will make for an interesting season in the West with each divisional game being important.


THE DYNAMIC DUO: With the acquisition of lineman Zach LaMonda to compliment Ricky Leung-Wai as the lineman duo for the 2004 season it will not mark the first time the two paths have crossed. The two have battled over the past tow years as divisional rivals as LaMonda played for the San Diego Riptide the past two seasons. With the veteran leadership on the line the offense should look to put up numbers in 2004.

STACKING UP THE ROOKIES: Come opening day the Coyotes will have a total of 16 rookies on the squad. Some of the new face rookies include fullback/linebacker and former Fresno State Bulldog JaJuan Huddleston, quarterback Jose Fuentes, wide receiver/linebacker Marvin Brown and wide receiver/defensive back LaMonte Jones.

CREE ‘A’ TING OFFENSE: Coyotes head coach Cree Morris looks to lead the Coyotes franchise to the top of the offensive charts. Last season while in San Diego, Morris had the third ranked offense in the National Conference. Morris averaged 248.2 yards per game.


DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: Central Valley’s 2003 defense finished the season third in the af2, its second straight season finishing in the top-10 in the league in total defense. The Coyotes led the league in pass defense and were third in the league in run defense.


The Coyotes head into their first bye week after the home opener at the Selland Arena. Central Valley will return back to action Saturday, April 10 at home against the Bakersfield Blitz. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.



Bakersfield 54, Peoria 60 at Centennial Garden, May 18, 2002

By Blitz: 433 vs. Tulsa, July 27, 2002

By Blitz: 70, vs. Fresno, June 1, 2002


By Blitz: Ryan Sloth (11-193) vs. Tulsa Talons, June 21, 2003
By Blitz: Eric Mahanke (8-115) vs. Tulsa Talons, June 21, 2003

By Blitz: Chad Elliott (25-37-356) vs. Tulsa Talons, June 21, 2003

By Blitz: Chad Elliott vs. San Diego, May 31, 2003

By Blitz: Chad Elliott vs. Tulsa, June 21, 2003

By Blitz: Chad Elliot vs. Hawaii, June 22, 2002

By Blitz: Steve Wofford vs. Fresno, June 1, 2002

By Blitz: Jon Baker vs. Green Bay, May 24, 2003


By Blitz: Oscar Grajeda vs. Louisville, June 7, 2003

By Blitz: J’Sharlon Jones (3) at Quad City, July 6, 2002

• Discuss this story on the arenafootball2 message board...

arenafootball2 Stories from March 23, 2004

The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

Other Recent Central Valley Coyotes Stories

Sports Statistics from the Stats Crew