Most Viewed Stories
WEEK ONE PREVIEW: Wheatland, Lindhurst battle for Highway 65
Pirates, Blazers open seasons
Two schools, two new coaches, one stretch of highway and a little bit of football — that will be the setting at Dean Miller Stadium in Olivehurst tonight when Lindhurst High welcomes in Yuba County rival Wheatland for both teams' 2012 season openers.
It's a dawning of a new era for both squads with the Pirates' Neil Stinson and the Blazers' Jason Neiber making their coaching debuts in the annual battle for Highway 65 bragging rights.
However, the series has been decidedly one sided since it began in 1997.
Wheatland has won all 15 games against Lindhurst, including a 27-14 victory in last year's contest. The Pirates have outscored the Blazers 518-146 in those games, winning by an average score of 35-10.
That's a trend that Neiber hopes to put an end to when the teams lock horns tonight at 7:30.
"They're really excited. We've spent two-a-days and the long hot summer knocking heads against each other and getting after it," Neiber said. "We didn't have a scrimmage this year and these guys are really ready to see some live action. I know from talking to them over the last couple days that they're chomping at the bit and are really ready to go."
Lindhurst enters the game with a few injuries, most notably to wide receiver Creighton Wright, who will miss the game due to a broken collar bone. Running back Deon Blakely was also banged up at practice on Wednesday and could miss the game as well.
Richard Powell will line up under center for the Blazers, who will look to mix up their formations in a West Coast, pro-style attack.
As for the Pirates, they will unveil a hybrid Wing-T look that Stinson has mastered over his 25 years of coaching.
Junior Jackson Hopking will start the game at quarterback for Wheatland, which plans on spreading the ball around a talented backfield consisting of Michael Robinson, Mark Campos, Garrett White and Austin Cooper.
"We have quick-strike potential — there's no doubt about it — but in the big ballgames we're going to have to play in this year, quick-strike potential doesn't necessarily win the ballgame," Stinson said. "We have to be able to move the ball effectively."
And while Neiber knows his team will have its hands full in the opener, he remains confident that his players will come out ready to play in front of their home crowd.
"Wheatland is a storied program and is known to be very successful, but you know what, we're building something here and the guys we have out here now I fully expect to come with their game faces on and be ready to go and get after it on Friday night," Neiber said. "It's going to be a war. I fully expect that."
Live Oak (1-0) at Marysville (0-1)
For the first time since the 1980s, the Lions and Indians will meet on the gridiron when Live Oak travels to War Memorial Stadium for Marysville's home opener.
Live Oak escaped with a 24-18 overtime win at East Nicolaus last week and did so without the services of All-Area quarterback Romario Acosta, who injured his knee late in the first quarter and never returned.
With Acosta out, the Lions turned to senior running back Tyler Raymond, who rushed for 114 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner in OT.
Marysville comes into the game following a penalty-filled 36-19 loss at Foresthill last week. Sophomore quarterback Aaron Birch, junior fullback Francisco Garcia and senior wingback Dante Shaver will lead the offensive charge for the Indians, who are getting acclimated to coach Cullen Meyer's new flexbone attack.
Williams (1-0) at Maxwell (0-1)
Two Colusa County schools will meet when the Yellowjackets travel north on I-5 to take on the Panthers in Maxwell's home opener.
Williams comes into the game riding high following a 48-0 victory at Los Molinos last week. Tony Boites rushed for three touchdowns and the Yellowjackets' defense forced five turnovers in the win.
The Panthers lost to a perennially strong Bradshaw Christian team 42-13 in their opener a week ago. They will be led into action by senior quarterback George Barajas, who is in his second season piloting coach Robert Wilson's quick-striking spread offense.
Central Valley (0-1) at Sutter (1-0)
Everything seemed to go right in the Huskies' 42-0 victory over Bethel in last week's opener, and tonight they will continue their push for a possible state bowl bid by welcoming the Falcons into Wayne Gadberry Field.
Sutter rolled up nearly 300 yards rushing in last week's win, receiving a pair of rushing touchdowns from running back Mat Sanders and quarterback Trent Little and 126 yards rushing and a score from fullback Nathan Ahlers.
The Huskies' defense was just as dominant, never allowing the Jaguars to cross midfield in the game.
Central Valley will be making its second straight trip to Sutter County after falling to River Valley 17-7 in last week's opener.
Yuba City (1-0) at River City (0-1)
The Honkers kicked off 2012 with a bang in a 48-21 victory at Davis last week and will look to do more of the same when they travel to West Sacramento to take on the Raiders.
Senior fullback Nate Van Dusen led the way for Yuba City in the opener, rushing for 230 yards on just 12 carries while scoring four touchdowns in the win. The rest of the Honkers' weapons were on full display as well as they went on to pile up 524 yards of total offense — 439 of them on the ground — to build a 34-0 third-quarter lead.
Senior quarterback Taylor Elkins and junior running backs Austin Van Poole, Omar Herrera and Alex Inskeep give the Honkers a balanced attack and they look to start the season 2-0 for the first time since 1999.
River City fell to Christian Brothers 23-20 in its opener last week.
Hamilton (0-0) at Pierce (1-0)
The Bears looked impressive in their 47-12 blowout victory over Esparto a week ago, but tonight's match-up should be much tougher.
The Braves are perennial title contenders in the Northern Section and will provide Pierce with its first true test of the season in the Bears' home opener.
Quarterback Nate Smith had 150 yards of total offense and accounted for two touchdowns, Adolfo Ramirez had two long scoring runs and Andy Corona added a pair of rushing TDs in Pierce's victory over Esparto.
It will be the season opener for Hamilton, which finished 10-3 last season before falling to Modoc in the Division IV title game.
Rio Vista (1-0) at East Nicolaus (0-1)
The Spartans nearly pulled off an upset before falling to Live Oak in overtime last week and will look to finish the job tonight at home against a strong Rio Vista squad.
Junior quarterback Zach Schuler was impressive in his varsity debut a week ago, rushing for a pair of touchdowns and throwing for one more while leading his team back from a 12-0 deficit in the third quarter.
Rio Vista rolled to a 58-0 victory over rival Delta in its season opener last week.
The Rams won last year's contest 44-6.
Willows (0-0) at Gridley (0-0)
The Bulldogs will look to start their season off on the right foot when they welcome the defending Northern Section Division III champion Honkers into the Bone Yard for both teams' opener.
Gridley will be led into action by junior quarterback Emery Haddy, who showed flashes of brilliance operating John Coopriders' pro-style offense as a sophomore a year ago. His main target in the passing game will be 6-foot-4 senior wideout Mat Scott, while sophomore Jonathan Villapania will line up at tailback.
Willows is the No. 1 ranked team in D-III in the latest Northern Section media poll and is at No. 5 in Cal-Hi Sports' Northern California Division IV state bowl game rankings.
Biggs (0-0) at Los Molinos (0-1)
After a bye in Week Zero, the Wolverines will take the field for the first time under new coach Ron Carr when they travel to Los Molinos to take on the Bulldogs.
Carr is just the fourth Biggs head football coach since 1963, replacing 22-year coaching veteran Mike Pena in the offseason.
The Wolverines will unveil a new wishbone offense this year, with a strong backfield of Chance Felkins, Randy Stanley, Greyson Milburn, Dalton Evenson and Nathan Callaway slated to get the carries.
Los Molinos, which didn't have a football program last season, was blown out by Williams 48-0 in its opener a week ago.