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CHICO — Friday was a big step for the Chico High football team, but the Panthers are hardly satisfied.
Chico opened their Eastern Athletic League schedule with a 44-7 win against Shasta on homecoming night, and had the look of a dominant team at times in the process.
The Panthers (4-1, 1-0 EAL) held Shasta without a completed pass in the first half, while Marvelous Owens grabbed two interceptions and Atticus Mikles added another one near the end of the second quarter.
Chico’s offense punted on its first possession and kicked a 37-yard field goal courtesy of Gannon Agnew on its following drive. From there, the Panthers found the end zone on each of their next five drives leading to halftime, kickstarted by a 25-yard Abe Del Real touchdown catch from Jake Hamman, with 3 minutes, 52 seconds left in the first quarter.
It was a marked improvement for the Panthers one week after they were dealt their first loss, a 40-0 blowout against Sutter.
“After last week, everyone was kind of down, but on Monday’s practice everyone was back into it,” Del Real said. “Here on out, the mindset is going hard every day, trying to take home the section and the league.”
The Wolves (1-4, 0-1) scored on an eight-play, 73-yard drive halfway through the second quarter, finished off by a James Weaver 1-yard touchdown, in which the junior recovered a fumbled snap and turned around to cross the goal line.
Weaver, who had 42 yards rushing, took an awkward fall on his head with 13 seconds left in the half while attempting to catch a pass. He remained down on the field for nearly 15 minutes, and was carted off the field on a stretcher.
Shasta’s Johari Woods, back after an ankle injury, rushed for 60 yards on seven carries, while Blake DeJesus ran for 46 yards on 10 carries and Weaver had 47 yards on eight carries before his night ended prematurely. Wolves’ QB Derek Myers was 0-for-5 passing with three interceptions.
Chico welcomed back Hamman and running back Jalen Johnson after both missed the last two games. Their presence was felt early and often.
Following Del Real’s first touchdown catch, the Panthers scored on the first play of the second quarter when Hamman hit Marco Moretti for a 5-yard score.
Chico’s next two drives followed a similar script, with Hamman throwing to Del Real and Owens on touchdowns of 43 and 56 yards, respectively.
Then, with just over a minute left in the half, Johnson found a hole on his right side and ran free for a 41-yard touchdown, the first of two scores for the senior.
“Having Jake and Jalen back on the field was a huge boost to us,” Chico head coach Jason Alvistur said. “They’re two good players, they’ve worked real hard, they’re critical pieces of our team, and we definitely missed them … It maybe took them a couple series for them to get their mojo back, but once we got our feet under us, we started clicking.”
The Panthers travel to winless Enterprise next week, while the Wolves host Pleasant Valley.
Eastern Athletic League (EAL)
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