GAME OF THE WEEK: No. 7 University Prep (8-2) at No. 2 Sutter (9-1)

For Sutter head coach Ryan Reynolds and the Huskies, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. The playoffs. 

“I absolutely love this time of year, the entire coaching staff and players get very excited and we can hardly control our eagerness to get out on the field,” Reynolds said. 

Though Sutter approaches its schedule one week at a time – as it should – the team still remembers how last season ended – with a loss to West Valley. 

“Almost everyone on this team made that trip up there last year so we’re definitely hungry to get these playoffs started, with that being said our full focus is on a very well-coached team in University Prep,” Reynolds added. 

The Panthers will make the trip to Wayne Gadberry Field tonight with an offense that’s currently averaging over 37 points per game. The Huskies will look to two vets on defense in order to shut them down. 

Both Mario Ayotte and Max Gipson have led the Sutter defense with a combined 214 tackles and 22.5 sacks. Sutter’s two-man wrecking crew also has bountiful playoff experience. 

“I remember we called both of those guys up to varsity their freshmen year, so they’re probably the most experience defensive players we have and that’s huge when you face a good offense,” Reynolds said. 

Staring down the Huskies defense in front of him will be University Prep quarterback Trevor Trueblood. The Panthers senior has thrown for 1,191 yards and 15 touchdowns this season, not to mention his 88.2 passer rating. 

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in Sutter. 

No. 10 Yuba City (7-4)  at

No. 2 Placer (8-2)

Last week at Sacramento City College the Honkers turned some heads. After multiple sports media outlets predicted Yuba City to lose, the Honkers responded in dominant fashion, taking down No. 7 Christian Brothers 54-19. 

“Placer has a really good football team, but with the way we played tonight (Nov. 8 vs. Christian Brothers) I like our chances against any opponent. These kids play for each other and that’s really what makes us a threat,” head coach Aaron Gingery said. 

Two players to watch for on Yuba City will be two names we’ve heard from all season long. Linebacker Luke Afato tallied an interception and a sack last week, while Erik Palmquist scored a total of six touchdowns – three through the air, two on the ground and one on a pick-6. 

If the Honkers want to come away with an upset tonight in Auburn, both Afato and Palmquist will have to make some more impact plays. 

As for the Hillmen, there’s plenty of talent to choose from but only player who can quite literally run away with a game in his hand – running back Hans Grassmann. 

In his senior season, the Placer star has rushed for 1,361 yards and 22 touchdowns, including five games in which he rushed for over 100 yards. 

This will for sure be an entertaining battle of heavy weights. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in Auburn. 

No. 8 Wheatland (6-4) at

No. 1 West Valley (10-0)

The Pirates having nothing to lose tonight when they head up to Cottonwood for a game against the top team in the Northern Section. Sure, everyone is betting against Wheatland, but sometimes that’s all a high school football team needs to be motivated. 

One player to watch for will be Wheatland’s star running back Tariq Parker. The senior back has rushed for over 1,600 yards to go along with his 14 touchdowns. If the Pirates can get Parker going early against West Valley’s defense (averaging 12 points allowed per game) it could make things interesting. 

The Eagles’ offense is unique for high school football in the fact that it’s pretty well-balanced in terms of pass and run plays. The Pirates defense will for sure need to watch out for wide receiver Hayden Boyes, who’s caught for 566 yards and seven scores this season. As for the ground attack, running back Cade Lambert leads West Valley with 808 yards and 13 touchdowns. 

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in Cottonwood. 

No. 5 Live Oak (8-2) at

No. 4 Paradise (10-0)

Back in early August members of the Live Oak football team stated that they wanted to change the culture and start winning more games. With the Lions returning to the playoffs for the first time in seven years, it would appear that they’ve done just that.

The Lions will face a red-hot Bobcats squad that hasn’t lost a game all season, not to mention has out-scored its last five opponents 268-33. 

Leading Paradise this season has been the running back duo of Tyler Harrison and Lukas Hartley. The two backs have combined for over 3,000 yards and 39 touchdowns. This could be a lot to handle for the Live Oak defense.

Looking to rise to the occasion for the task of shutting down the Paradise run-game will be Live Oak’s Hunter Ballantyne. This season the senior leads the Lions with 91 tackles, five of which were tackles for a loss of yards. 

As for the Lions offense, look for more of the same game plan: hand the ball off to running back Odin Moody. This season Moody has rushed for 1,307 yards and 12 touchdowns. 

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in Paradise. 

No. 8 Willows (3-7) at

No. 1 East Nicolaus (9-1)

Tonight in Nicolaus will showcase a battle between two teams who couldn’t have had more different seasons. The Spartans have dominated since an early loss to Paradise, while the Honkers struggled all season before winning two of their last three games. 

One thing’s certain, Willows will have its hands full with a high-powered offense in East Nicolaus. This season the Spartans have averaged over 34 points per game, with 15 scores through the air and 34 on the ground. 

This is much in part to due to the play of Mitch Barker, Gavin McAuliff and J.T. Stinson who have a combined 27 touchdowns. 

As for Willows, the Honkers will need to bounce back from their 21-7 loss last week against Winters. 

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at East Nicolaus High School.

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