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PLAYOFFS ROUND 1 PREVIEW: Nine local squads continue seasons tonight
Yuba City faces stiff test from Del Oro
On paper, tonight's Sac-Joaquin Section Division II matchup between Yuba City High and Del Oro is called a No. 2 vs. No. 15 seed game. The seedings and records of these teams don't nearly suffice in telling the full story in this first-round tilt between the Honkers and Golden Eagles.
Despite a 9-1 overall record and Tri-County Conference championship, the Honkers are matched up with one of the most prestigious programs in the section.
Del Oro is the two-time defending Division III section champions and played in a state bowl game last year. Overall, the Golden Eagles have won eight section titles.
After being projected for most of the season to compete in the D-III bracket, the Honkers received somewhat of a surprise with the bump up to D-II.
Yuba City coach John Ithurburn said his team isn't going to worry about things it can't control. The sole focus is going out and trying to win a football game tonight.
"We haven't been making a big deal about (tonight's game)," Ithurburn said. "We just act like it's the next week on the schedule. We think we can play with anybody and that remains to be seen."
Del Oro is 5-5 overall but finished 4-1 in the ever-competitive Sierra Foothill League right behind Granite Bay. The Golden Eagles' nonleague schedule included Southern California powers Oaks Christian and Westlake, along with Burbank, Grant and Logan (Union City). They went 1-4 in those games.
DO enters tonight's game with back-to-back victories over Nevada Union and Rocklin, the latter win clinched a spot in the postseason for the Golden Eagles.
Del Oro will rely heavily on senior running back Brandon Monroe, a San Jose State recruit who's totaled 817 yards with seven touchdowns this season, while missing some time with injury.
Dylan Kainrath and Mark Leveron are also backs the Honkers will have to keep in check. Quarterback Zach Labar has completed 61 percent of his passes for 1,075 yards and eight touchdowns compared to just two interceptions.
"This is the best team we're going to play this year," Ithurburn said. "Their schedule's brutal. It would be like us playing Inderkum, or a team better than Inderkum, every week and (Del Oro) weathered it."
Yuba City will have to weather four quarters if the Honkers hope to advance to the second round. Tonight will be just the third home playoff game in school history (1987, 2010).
The Honkers' thunder-and-lightning backfield combo of Nate Van Dusen and Omar Herrera has combined for 1,933 yards this season and 28 touchdowns.
Ithurburn said tonight's game is a perfect opportunity for his program to gauge itself as to where it stands in the "football world." Weather permitting, this could be the biggest crowd at Honker Stadium since Onterrio Smith and Grant High came to town in 1998.
"We're going to play hard, they're going to play hard and somebody's going to win a football game," Ithurburn said. "The next day's going to come no matter what, the sun will still come up. It's still just football."
River Valley (6-4) at American Canyon (9-1)
In American Canyon — The No. 13-seed Falcons head south to the Bay Area to face the No. 4 Wolves in the first round of the Division III playoffs.
American Canyon, located just north of Vallejo, is only in its second season of competing at the varsity level.
The Wolves were champions of the Solano County Athletic Conference with a 4-1 conference record, though the SCAC isn't considered to be an elite conference.
AC puts up 42 points per game, granted the Wolves' schedule wasn't necessarily strong this season as their 10 opponents went a combined 39-60. However, only one of RV's wins this season came against a team with a winning record (Central Valley).
River Valley will see a similar offense this week to what the Falcons saw in last week's Mayor's Cup. Like Yuba City, the Wolves operate out of the veer.
Junior Jomon Dodson picked up 1,774 yards and 22 touchdowns this season in just nine games. The big playmaker at wideout is senior Chris Seisay, who's already given a verbal commitment to Oregon. Seisay has 21 catches for 464 yards and eight touchdowns.
Seisay is also a force on defense in the secondary as he was named the SCAC Defensive Player of the Year.
Yreka (7-3) at Sutter (10-0)
In Sutter — The No 1-seeded Huskies open play in the Northern Section Division II bracket against the No. 8 Miners at Wayne Gadberry Field.
Sutter won the Butte View League for the first time since 2009 this season and is looking for its first section crown since 2008.
Yreka began the season at 6-0 but went 1-3 over its final four games including a 2-3 finish in the Northern Athletic League.
Everything for the Miners begins and ends with junior Kaden Culp, the team's starting quarterback and playmaker on both sides of the ball.
Culp and the Miners run a spread option offense. As a dual-threat in that system, Culp has 1,564 yards passing and 11 touchdowns through the air. He also has some ability with his feet with 873 yards rushing and 13 rushing touchdowns.
Defensively, Culp leads Yreka with 80 tackles and he's also the punter. The Miners have three different receivers with at least 300 yards receiving this season.
Sutter shut down the spread earlier this season when the Huskies faced Enterprise in Redding. The Husky defense is only allowing nine points per game.
Wheatland (7-3) at Orland (8-2)
In Orland — In a rematch of a game that was played just two weeks ago, the No. 5 Pirates head north to face off with their BVL rival in the D-II bracket.
The No. 4 Trojans took that game 48-20, outscoring Wheatland 21-0 in the fourth quarter. Orland's only losses this year were to Sutter and Central Valley.
Orland, the defending D-II champion, runs the option out of the flexbone with a pistol look, averaging nearly 240 yards per game on the ground.
Wheatland quarterback Jackson Hopking leads the area with 1,349 yards passing and 23 touchdown passes. Tight end Jordan Samson has 30 catches this season for 710 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Hopking passed for 249 yards and three touchdowns in the loss to Orland though he did throw two interceptions.
Live Oak (7-3) at Central Valley (6-4)
In Shasta Lake — The No. 7-seeded Lions will partake in their first Division-II game as they make the trip up north to square off with No. 2 CV.
Live Oak topped Durham 28-0 in Week 10 to solidify a playoff berth, finishing 3-2 in Sacramento Valley League play.
Central Valley endured a rough 1-4 nonleague schedule which included dates with River Valley, Sutter, Orland, Enterprise and Chico, but went 5-0 in the NAL.
The Falcons have a stable of backs in their wing-T offense and haven't lost a game since Sept. 21 to Chico.
Live Oak's do-everything senior Romario Acosta has been the heart and soul of the Lions this season.
He has passed for 1,171 yards this season and 11 touchdowns to go with 418 yards on the ground and six more scores. At free safety he leads the team with 70 tackles.
Durham (4-6) at Pierce (10-0)
In Arbuckle — Pierce earned the No. 1 seed in Division III after an undefeated mark and SVL title, but now the Bears face the team that gave them their best game this season.
Pierce edged No. 8 Durham 21-20 on Oct. 12, escaping with a win. This time the game is played at Gregg LeMaster Field.
Pierce has a nice advantage in this D-III bracket: The Bears played and beat every team in the field except one (Modoc) this season.
The Bears average 257 yards per game on the ground with their triple-option and leading the way is Andy Corona with 1,057 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Quarterback Nate Smith has 498 yards rushing with eight scores. He's also passed for 529 yards and six TDs.
East Nicolaus (6-4) at Willows (6-4)
In Willows — These two schools haven't faced each other since a 2008 playoff game, a 31-21 victory for the Honkers.
The Honkers finished second in the SVL behind Pierce and East Nic tied for second in the Mid-Valley League with Colusa and Quincy.
No. 4 Willows is the defending D-III section champion and the No. 5 Spartans are seeking their first playoff victory since the 08 season when they beat Mt. Shasta.
Colusa (5-5) at Modoc (7-2)
In Alturas — The No. 6 RedHawks will make the 41⁄2 -hour trek to the northeast corner of the state to square off with No. 3-seeded Braves tonight in Division III play.
If Colusa can overcome the lethargy that comes with that long of a bus ride the RedHawks could be poised for an upset here.
Modoc was champion of the four-team Shasta Cascade League and Colusa tied for second in the MVL.
Colusa's running backs have flourished in Paul Theriault's version of the wing-T. Andrew Rodriguez has totaled an area-high 1,736 yards, Conner Herrick has 963 and Ryan Abele rounds out the stable with 703.
Burney (4-6) at Maxwell (7-3)
In Maxwell — With Portola's loss last week to Chester, Maxwell earned a three-way share of the Mountain Valley League title, however, Portola and Chester received the first-round byes in the Division IV bracket.
The Panthers were given the No. 3 seed and a first-round date with No. 6 Burney.
A win earns Maxwell a rematch with Portola in the section semifinals.
Maxwell quarterback George Barajas leads the Panthers with 731 yards rushing and nine touchdowns. He has also completed about 50 percent of his passes for 832 yards and seven touchdowns in seven games.