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Game of the Week: Lots at stake for Orland-West Valley

Get your popcorn ready, North State football fans. It’s about to get wild.

Get your popcorn ready, North State football fans. It’s about to get wild. West Vallley hosts Orland in the Redding Rancheria  Game of the Week Friday night at 7:30 p.m. in one of two matchups featuring 3-1 teams from Division III in the Northern Section.

And it continues to get better too with West Valley going to Anderson next week in the South County Collision. But that’s for next week. This week, the Eagles have a tough test coming off their bye week. West Valley and Orland have only squared off five times since 2008 and haven’t played in a regular season game since 2009.

Here’s what you need to know heading into the Week 4 games, including the Redding Rancheria  Game of the Week.

What’s at stake — Orland already has a 13-10 win over Anderson (albeit the Cubs were without Parker Phillips) and a win over West Valley would mean owning the head-to-head over both Northern Athletic League contenders, who could both push for a Northern Section Division III championship. Orland still has Gridley and Sutter on the schedule but having the tiebreaker is crucial. Conversely, West Valley’s big matchup against Anderson in the South County Collision next week, meaning two big weeks for the Eagles coming out of their bye. The winner from this game could potentially earn a top two seed in the playoffs, meaning

Star power — West Valley has it, Orland employs a more balanced attack. Bailey Sulzer is a force for the Eagles and has only been held to less than 100 yards in one game this year (loss at Enterprise in which West Valley admits it took the Hornets for granted). It’s obvious the Eagles are riding on Sulzer as the workhorse ‘back. But when teams key on him with nine guys in the box, will others step up? Will Sulzer still get the ball and punish defenders the way he’s been known to do for nearly three years?  On the other side, Orland’s three-headed rushing attack of Hunter Foster (36 carries, 202 yards), Ky Sappasith (37 carries, 196 yards) and Gustavo Carrillo (36 carries, 150 yards) has given opponents fits this season.

Defense wins championships — The moniker is appearing true so far this year in Division III. Aside of Orland’s 48-0 loss to Paradise in the opener, the Trojans have since only allowed 17 points in the past three games and have yet to allow a 100-yard rusher (Paradise’s Colby Cline has the season-high with 86 yards in Week Zero against Orland). West Valley is sound defensively this season, holding teams to 112.5 yards on the ground and only 3.7 yards per carry — which is what they gave up last week in the 19-13 win over the Bobcats, who ran for 358 on Orland. West Valley has two shutouts on the year — both against upper division teams Foothill and Red Bluff — and is allowing 6.8 points per game, which is the fourth-best mark out of all 11-man Northern Section teams.

Who: Orland (3-1) at West Valley (3-1)
Where: The Pasture, Cottonwood
When: 7:30 p.m., Friday

Enterprise (1-3, 0-0 EAL) at Chico (5-0, 1-0 EAL), 7:30 p.m.
The Panthers look to be the cream of the Division II crop, as well as the Eastern Athletic League. Chico has knifed through its schedule thus far — Sac High, Lassen, Yuba City, Sutter and Shasta. And while Jason Alvistur’s squad has played a few close games, the body of work is impressive. The Panthers start with quarterback Ty Thomas, who carved up the Wolves last week, hitting Abe Del Real and Kobe Hood for four scores. Running back Ty Walker is a bruising every-down back with surprising breakaway speed. Toss in speedster Jalen Johnson and Chico is stacked on offense.

The Hornets have shown they can be explosive — Leslie Cummings has fueled the Enterprise big play offense along with receiver Sean McDonald — but Chris Combs’ crew has also showed the ability to not show up. A 35-14 win over West Valley is juxtaposed with a 54-20 loss at Lassen and a 35-6 loss at Sutter.

The two have Sutter and Lassen as common opponents, although Chico had both at home and Enterprise traveled to Susanville and Sutter.

Foothill (2-3, 0-1 EAL) at Red Bluff (1-4, 0-1 EAL), 7:30 p.m.
The Cougars have to find a way to bounce back after a tough EAL opening 43-40 loss to Paradise. Joey Brown & Co. should hope Red Thunder’s 2018 pattern holds true — loss, win, loss, win, loss … If that’s any indication at all, the Cougars should come out with the Dub at Red Bluff.

Seriously, though, Jayden Gordon has shown why he’s an MVP candidate with weekly stat totals that are gaudy – Gordon threw for 99 yards, ran for 172 yards and five TDs. As the season progresses, teams will look to bottle up Gordon and make the Cougars find another way to beat them. That’s where running back Bryce Henderson and the defense of Matt Diskin come in. Henderson must work to keep opposing defenses honest and Diskin’s ‘D’ must keep the score manageable for Gordon and the offense.

The Spartans have twice been shutout, but almost came back to win an opening week game against Anderson (after Parker Phillips was ejected near halftime). The win is against Corning in the Tehama County Shootout, the rivalry game for Red Bluff.

Eli Wehbey will top the 1,000-yard mark passing in this game, coming into the Homecoming Game with 998 yards passing on 78-of-142 attempts and eight touchdowns. His main target is senior Logan Robertson, who has 39 catches for 561 yards and six TDs. Defensively, linebackers Darek Dodson and Eric Davis, 47 and 45 tackles, respectively, must find a way to help bottle up Gordon.

Shasta (1-3, 0-1 EAL) at Pleasant Valley (3-2, 1-0 EAL) at Chico State University, 7:30 p.m.
Played at Chico State while Asgard Yard undergoes renovations, the Vikings are road warriors this season. Shasta, meanwhile, limps into this meeting at 1-3 and having shown little signs of life on offense.

PV is led offensively by quarterback Tanner Hughes and wideout Caleb Cooley as the pair have hooked up 27 times for 704 yards and 12 touchdowns (PV’s other receivers have 28 catches for 286 yards overall). Dante Martin has 275 yards rushing to try and keep defenses honest, but the arm of Hughes is how the Vikings will live and die offensively.

The Wolves should get James Weaver back after missing last week’s loss with concussion-like symptoms, and his presence will help the wing rotation with Brayden Coon and the emerging Charles Deitrich. Quarterback Brian Kilgore has found a reliable target in Famous Armstrong, whose athleticism is freakishly good.

Defensively, sophomore Blayden Stankey and junior Logan Thibodeau have played well at end, while linebacker Isaiah Pena has been a ball-hawk along with safety Dom Hicks and linebacker Cade Petrie.

Anderson (3-1) at Gridley (3-1), 7:30 p.m.
This might be the best game of the night as the Cubs and Bulldogs put their 3-1 marks on the line in what should be a smash mouth night of football at The Boneyard.

Stopping the run will be key for either squads as both teams feature potent rushing attacks. Gridley relies on backs Jorge Moran and Riley Dunning to shoulder the load. Moran has 647 yards on 72 carries and 12 scores, while 527 yards on 59 carries and eight TDs. The Gridley defense has pitched two shutouts (Central Valley and Marysville), while allowing 21 in a win over Live Oak and 57 in a loss to Paradise.

Big Blue will rely on Parker Phillips to shoulder the load offensively as the feature back has nearly 700 yards rushing and 11 TDs despite missing a week after an opening-night ejection. His 375 yards in his return set an Anderson school record. Vaipou Leota and the Cubs have started to throw the ball more to keep the opposition from stacking the box against Phillips.

Hamilton (1-3) at Central Valley (1-3), 7:30 p.m.   
The Falcons look to get their second win of the season against the Braves, who beat Biggs 28-24 on opening night and then have been shutout in their three losses.

Offensively, the Falcons have weapons and can put points up, as was evident in last week’s 42-32 loss to Oroville. Will Flowers scored three times for CV and play-makers Isiah Polk, Brett League and quarterback Kevin Seaman have show the ability to add numbers to the scoreboard.

The problem the Falcons face is all four of those guys go two ways, so there’s little rest from offense to defense.

Redding Christian (2-3) at Happy Camp (0-4), 6 p.m.
The Lions look to get back on the winning track after a 28-21 loss to Tulelake last week.

Isaiah VanDenend has accounted for more than 1,000 yards from scrimmage — 834 yards rushing and 344 yards passing. When the Lions win, they score more than 40 points, which is likely given the winless Indians have only scored 20 points on the season.

Burney (0-5) at Modoc (1-3), 7:30 p.m. 
The Raiders look to get in the win column on the road in far northeastern California.

Burney has scored 12 points all season, while surrendering nearly 40 per contest. Connor Pfadt has thrown for nearly 500 yards and one score and run for the Raiders’ other TD.

Cody Nelson paces Modoc with 253 yards rushing on 57 carries and two scores, while Wyatt Larranaga has thrown for 548 yards and two scores. All three of the Braves’ losses have been close (14-7, 22-7 and 7-0).

Fall River (4-0) at Biggs (2-3), 7:30 p.m. 
The Bulldogs can beat you in a number of ways – on the ground behind running back Bailey Small or through the air on the arm of Gavin Dobson.

Small has run for 538 yards on 57 carries and five scores, while Dobson has passed for 525 yards on an efficient 30-of-45 passing and nine TDs. Cody Jorgensen and Jeffrey Kask are frequent targets in the passing game.

The Wolverines counter with a two-headed rushing attack behind Tucker Bennett and Silas McFall – 384 and 302 yards, respectively. Each has found pay dirt seven times for Biggs.

Note: U-Prep has a bye

Other Northern Section Games
Oroville at Paradise , 7:30 p.m.
Lassen at Corning , 7:30 p.m.
Yreka at Mt. Shasta , 7:30 p.m.
Trinity at Del Norte, 7:30 p.m.
Quincy at Etna , 7:30 p.m.
Portola at Maxwell , 7:30 p.m.
Colusa at Willows , 7:30 p.m.
Esparto at Durham , 7:30 p.m.
Live Oak at Winters , 7:30 p.m.

8-Man Games
Dunsmuir at Butte Valley, 6 p.m.
Hayfork at Big Valley, 7:00pm
Weed at Tulelake , 4 p.m.
Greenville at Princeton , 6 p.m.
Los Molinos at Westwood , 6 p.m.

8-Man Games
Mercy vs. Herlong at Sacred Heart Parish School (Red Bluff), 1 p.m.
McCloud  at Loyalton, 1 p.m.

Staff Reports is content produced by the Shasta County Sports team.

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