GAME OF THE WEEK: Yuba City (6-4) at Christian Brothers (7-3)

The Honkers roll into tonight’s first round playoff game with a little bit of a bitter taste left in their mouths. After finishing out the season with a league record of 4-2, Yuba City was sure it would be able to host a home playoff game. Unfortunately the higher-ups felt otherwise. 

“It’s tough, but we’ll move forward and prove to everyone out there why we felt we should have been seeded higher,” head coach Aaron Gingery said. 

Standing in front of the Honkers is a familiar opponent, the Christian Brothers Falcons. Last season Yuba City took down the Falcons in the opening round of the playoffs, 30-28. 

Although both teams have lost and gained talent in the offseason, the Honkers are ready to face quarterback Jacob Stewart for a second time.

“He’s really progressed from what we’ve seen. He’s been a big part of their offense this season so our defense we’ll need to step up and put some pressure on him,” coach Gingery said. 

As for the Honkers, look for the offense to stick with its game plan all season: run, run and run again. With premium talented running backs like Eric Palmquist and Takeshi Faupula as well as an offensive line that can block well, Gingery feels confident in his offense. 

“I think we have one of the best offensive lines in the area,” Gingery said. “They have been key in a lot of our games this season and we’ll need them to play their best again,” he added. 

Coming into tonight’s game, Christian Brothers has won back-to-back games against Del Campo (41-7) and Sacramento (41-26). 

“This is what we work hard for in the off season. To get to this very moment,” Gingery said. “I couldn’t be prouder of this team and how they play for each other. It’ll be a fun game,” he added. 

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Sacramento City College. 

River Valley (4-6) at Vista del Lago (8-2)

The Falcons were able to squeak into the playoffs this year as a No. 12 seed. Their first road block? A tough 8-win opponent in the No. 5 Vista del Lago Eagles. 

After a 45-34 loss to Placer on Sept. 13, the Eagles were able to reel off 5-straight victories to put themselves in the driver seat for a home playoff game. 

One player to keep an eye on is star running back Ethan Menezes. The junior back has rushed for 1,608 yards and 16 touchdowns through 10 games this season. 

Looking to slow down Menezes will be a River Valley defense that’s allowing just 14 points per game on average in its last three contests. 

One impact player for the Falcons will be all-around offensive specialist George Baker. The sophomore stud has turned his game on in the second half of the season, rushing for over 100 yards in multiple games. 

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in Folsom. 

East Nicolaus (8-1) at University Prep (8-1) 

Tonight’s match-up between the Spartans and Panthers is for all the marbles: A 2019 Mid-Valley League title. 

Both programs have been on a roll this season; East Nicolaus is currently on an 8-game win streak while University Prep is on a 7-game win streak. While the Panthers have shown a slighter edge on the offensive side of the ball (averaging over 41 points per game) the Spartans definitely have the edge on the defensive side of the ball. 

On average, the Spartans give up less than nine points per game. This is much due to impact plays made by Garrett McCray, who’s tallied 71 tackles on the season. Other notable standouts on the East Nicolaus defense include Josh Grotegeer with 4.5 sacks and Ashton York with four interceptions. 

It’s be a battle of the heavy weights tonight in Redding. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

Orland (5-4) at Sutter (8-1)

The Sutter Huskies scamper into tonight’s match-up vs. the Trojans in prime position to make a post season run. 

While Orland is no easy task, expect much of the same from the Huskies offense tonight. 

This year Sutter has been led by offensive specialist Cory McIntyre, who’s rushed for 833 yards on 105 carries and 10 touchdowns. 

While it’s easy to get caught up in the Sutter offense, the defense has been the real story of the year. The Huskies have managed to tally five shutouts – not allowing a single point on the board since Sept. 27 against Enterprise. 

As for Orland, one player to watch for will be running back Hunter Foster. This season the senior back has rushed for 673 yards on 110 carries and four touchdowns. 

On defense, the Trojans are led by Angel Bravo with 61 tackles in eight games. 

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. in Sutter.

Wheatland (6-3) at Gridley (4-5)

It’s been a season for the books for Wheatland. After struggling to find wins in recent years, the Pirates have a chance to finish the regular season with seven wins for the first time since 2012. 

Standing between Wheatland and this feat is a hungry Bulldogs team that hasn’t won since its  dramatic overtime finish against Las Plumas on Oct. 18. 

Leading the Pirates this year is a stellar offensive line. Wheatland’s Christopher Soderlund and Mathew Derryberry have made huge impacts in the trenches leading to running back Tariq Parker’s stand out season. 

As for Gridley, look for running back Arden Anderson to find the end zone. The junior back has seven touchdowns and 772 rushing yards on the season. 

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. tonight in Gridley. 

Live Oak (7-2) at Colusa (5-4)

Following last week’s come-from-behind fourth-quarter rally, Live Oak stays on the road tonight to battle Colusa to close-out the regular season in a Sacramento Valley League showdown. 

A Live Oak victory secures its first outright league championship since 2007. If Live Oak loses and Pierce wins at Durham (2-7, 1-4) then the two SVL powers will share the league championship – the first such honor for Live Oak since 2010. 

It’s been a storybook year for Live Oak (7-2, 5-0) and last week in Arbuckle was a solid example of the team’s resilience to becoming a winning program again. 

Down 13-0 with about 10 minutes left, Live Oak rallied for two fourth-quarter touchdowns – the last one in the game’s final minute – to topple Pierce, 14-13. 

 Live Oak head coach Jim Arostegui said the team’s ability to not quit in the fourth was remarkable and he hopes it continues at Colusa (5-4, 3-2). The Lions haven’t beaten the RedHawks since Sept. 2, 2011 – a string of five straight losses. 

Live Oak quarterback Tony Vallejo, the team’s hero last week with a couple fourth-quarter touchdown passes, has thrown for seven scores to only three interceptions and 410 passing yards in nine games. He’ll likely look to ignite the team’s rush attack early by giving plenty of early opportunities to junior leading-rusher Odin Moody. Moody has run for over 1,200 yards and 12 rushing TDs to lead Live Oak. He’ll alternate carries with Hayden Langley (762 yards, 5 TDs), while outside targets Eddie Torres and Ta’jon Bloomer provide a size advantage over most teams in the passing game. 

Defensively, Bloomer had a breakout game at Pierce with a couple sacks and blocked punts to keep it close until the team’s fourth-quarter surge. 

This week in the postseason chase, Live Oak sits fourth in the Northern Section Division III playoff race, while Colusa comes in No. 3 in D-IV. 

Colusa’s offense relies heavily on its senior quarterback, Riley Stice, who has passed for over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns this year.

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