Stormy year ends full of 49er nuggets
A giant rainbow stretched from East Linda to Modesto over the weekend, the end to a stormy season for the Yuba College football team.
Unfortunately for the 49ers, Hartnell got away with the pot of gold, winning the Graffiti Bowl, 37-34 in overtime.
Yet, in a year in which one teammate stabbed another and injuries plowed through the squad like a harvester on a dry check, the smaller victories were magnified in Technicolor.
The journey became the real prize and more than a few nuggets were found along the way.
At the top of the list, of course, is the fact Edd Johnson will recover from his injuries.
Johnson was stabbed through his diaghram with the knife piercing the pericardial sack around his heart during a dispute over a helmet visor on Sept. 30.
In a lot of ways, the rainbow began to form immediately as several players hurriedly came to Johnson's aid and contributed greatly to his chances to live.
Coach Ted Hoal called their actions heroic.
Then the team rallied, battling through the emotional turmoil and a depleted roster.
The 49ers entered Bay Valley Conference play with a 1-3 record and began to turn the season around, ultimately clinching the league title with an impressive 27-7 victory over Mendocino in the last regular season game.
It was in that game another nugget was found.
Andy Fatten, patiently waiting his turn as a backup running back, rushed for a career-high 222 yards against Mendocino.
The record day would not last long, however, as Fatten would out do himself with a 256-yard performance in the Graffiti Bowl.
In a lot of ways, Fatten, a freshman from Wheatland High, is symbolic of the nicest rainbow nugget of all.
Traditionally, the 49er football team is a far-reaching collection of players from Hawaii, Washington, Florida and wherever else Hoal can find solid players.
But this year's team, had a good showing of local talent.
Trevor Stoehr, from Yuba City, effectively guided the team at quarterback. He threw three touchdowns in the BVC clincher.
His former Honker teammate, Zeb Petty, opened the year as the starting tailback, but injuries slowed him throughout the year. Brandon Pack, from Sutter, was a key run-stopper on defense, and 330-pound Lindhurst High product Casey Jorgensen found a starting job on the offensive line.
Nic Nelson, also from Sutter, kicked for the team and had a couple of wins to his credit in the two years he played for the 49ers.
In all, 10 players from Yuba-Sutter schools were on the roster, eight are eligible to return next year, including Fatten, Stoehr and Jorgensen.
Maybe now, more local football players will follow the rainbow and extend their football careers right here at home.