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DEMAIN EVENT: Sutter gets well-deserved bowl bid
Huskies to face Marin Catholic in Oroville
Well, it will be the biggest game in Northern Section football history — and I say that because statewide eyes will be focused on our backyard.
That's right, the California Interscholastic Federation announced on Sunday that the Sutter High Huskies will face off against North Coast Section's Marin Catholic in the Division III State Regional Bowl game.
First off, I'm not overlooking Hamilton's bid in 2008.
Hamilton was the first and only team to represent the Northern Section at the state level, but the Braves also played that game down south and lost 59-7.
Sutter (13-0) will practically play host to Marin Catholic (13-1) at Harrison Stadium in Oroville on Saturday. The winner will represent the North in the CIF State Championship game.
The debate of whether this squad measures up to past championship teams or not can happen over a beer in a local dive bar. I'm not interested.
What's more important here is the recognition of not only the Northern Section — which, let's face it, sits at the bottom of the sections in Northern California as far as competitiveness — but the program of Sutter.
It's a true testament of what this program has achieved in nearly 20 seasons.
In 18 seasons, Sutter has been to 10 section title games and won six.
It's a program, folks.
All those past contending teams helped pave the way for these guys, too. This isn't an upstart team, and the CIF understands that now, but it took touchdowns from guys like Kyle Williams, Dane Turner, John Garcia and Elijah Smith to make that happen. And it took time by coaches, volunteers and parents to help run those practices like an NCAA program.
It's also not a gimme just because the team finished undefeated.
Yes, this is the first Sutter team to go 13-0, but the Huskies managed to do that despite playing one of their toughest schedules over the past 20 seasons.
In the Huskies' season opener, they steamrolled Bethel of Vallejo, a perennial power, 42-0. While Bethel didn't have its best season under coach Jeff Turner, finishing 6-5 and getting knocked out in the first round of the playoffs, it was one of the most lopsided losses on its schedule.
The Huskies then blew away Central Valley 30-3, which actually blew me away considering I had CV pegged as one of the better Northern Section teams this season — and to my credit, the Falcons finished strong before losing narrowly in the section semifinals to West Valley.
Sutter then took its third trip out of state in five seasons, this time to Idaho, where the team mopped up Clarkston of Washington.
The Huskies then faced the teeth of the Butte View League. They rolled Wheatland, edged Orland, as they did in the section semis, and trounced Winters and Gridley before their biggest regular-season game of the year — Enterprise.
The non-league match against Enterprise received a little extra attention, due to the fact that some of us were already thinking state title bid.
In surprising fashion, the Huskies got up on the much larger school by 21 points before beating the Hornets 34-27 – on the road.
Oh, yeah, Enterprise ended up winning the section title in Division I, which, in our eyes, makes Sutter, with just more than 600 students, the best team in the section — the CIF must have felt the same way.
It was all downhill from there for the Huskies, that is, until facing West Valley in probably one of the best games this area has seen in recent memory.
Sutter tipped West Valley 38-31 in double overtime to win the section title and to become eligible for what many anticipated — an invite to this weekend's game.
"We're definitely humbled that they (CIF) would consider us," Sutter coach Ryan Reynolds said. "But at the same time we're also very excited."
Sutter has already played a game at Harrison Stadium this year, defeating Oroville 62-13.
Parents and players gathered with coaches on Sunday at the school's cafeteria following the news.
"My phone started blowing up; it spread quick. Everyone is really excited," Reynolds said. "I told them, we were in for a game, we have to be ready to go. We have to be focused, because it's going to take everything we got to beat these guys."
Luckily for the Huskies, they will have home-field advantage.
"I think its going to be a huge advantage to us playing there," Reynolds said. "Our players will definitely be fired up when they see that support."