With a home playoff game secured last week, Foothill High’s football team is seeing just how far it can push it.
The Cougars host the Chico Panthers in the final game of the regular season Friday night at 7:30 p.m. in the Redding Rancheria Game of the Week. The 4-seed is guaranteed for Foothill but should it hand Chico only its second loss and Pleasant Valley knocks off top-ranked Paradise then Foothill should slide into the No. 3 spot and not have to see the No. 1 seed until finals.
Chico, a section finalist a year ago, also comes back to Bill Johnson Community Stadium where it needed a last-minute touchdown to steal a road game against Foothill last year. Cougars head coach Joey Brown hasn’t forgotten that loss and sees this game as a litmus test for a November run.
“These guys know how to win and our guys are learning how to do that,” Brown said. “The know what they’re playing against. We just need to control our effort and our tempo.”
Chico is coming off a 17-10 win over Pleasant Valley in Almond Bowl 48 while Foothill demolished Shasta 49-20 last week with Jayden Gordon (2,283 total yards, 30 TDs) accounting for 6 TDs to earn Tri Counties Bank Player of the Game and Weaver Lumber Player of the Week honors. He’s leading an offense that has scored at least 35 points in four of the past five games and gets receiver Chris Jacobsen back after he missed last week after being in a car accident.
“We just have to keep going with what’s working, trusting our system and doing the things that makes us successful and that all starts with Jayden,” Brown said. “When Bryce (Henderson) can contribute in the running game that opens things up.”
The Cougars have won three of the four games when Henderson (594 yards, 3 TDs) goes over the 100-yard rushing mark. But Chico’s defense is allowing 13.8 points per game thanks to its defensive front, which presents a challenge unlike the Cougars have faced this season.
“They are very good up front and sound,” Brown said. “Usually when a team sends a lot of pressure you can catch them out of position if you throw different looks at them but they’re solid and their secondary can cover a lot of ground.”
Foothill also get back linebacker and defensive leader Matt Paschen, who has missed the past four games with a shoulder injury and torn ligaments in his thumb. He provides a spark and energy on defense with his effort, Brown said.
REDDING RANCHERIA GAME OF THE WEEK
Who: Chico (4-1 EAL, 8-1) at Foothill (3-2 EAL, 5-4)
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Bill Johnson Community Stadium
Key stat: The last 3 meetings have been decided by a total of nine points.
Shasta (3-6) at Lassen (6-3), 7:30 p.m.
This is a rare Week 10 non-league game with not much on the line for the Wolves other than pride. Shasta appears locked into the No. 5 seed in Division II, waiting either (most likely) Foothill or Chico. The Grizzlies, on the other hand, could move up to the four-seed in Division III with a win and Orland loss.
In addition, Tom St. Jacques’ crew is looking to get the taste of being shutout for the first time since 2014 out it its mouth (the last time the Grizzlies were shutout at home was 2010 to Paradise). West Valley held Tucker St. Andre to 66 yards rushing and Hayden Chittock to 68 yards passing.
The Wolves’ offensive explosion from the River Bowl win over Enterprise fizzled a bit against Foothill, but, at times, Shasta showed it could move the ball. JC Hunsaker’s crew just has to finish drives and hold on to the rock, something the offense failed to do in the loss to the Cougars. The Shasta defense, which had been lights out for four straight weeks, could figure out a way to bottle up the Weaver Lumber Player of the Week, Jayden Gordon, who had a hand in six scores for Red Thunder.
The Wolves would be served to establish the run game behind James Weaver, Brayden Coon, Alec Meek and Bryson Kimp, while having quarterback Brian Kilgore pick his spots to find an open receiver. That would keep the Lassen offense – and Wolves D – off the field.
Enterprise (1-8, 0-5 Eastern Athletic League) at Red Bluff (1-8, 0-5 EAL), 7:30 p.m.
This one is for all the marbles – the right to the No. 6 seed in the D-II playoffs.
The Hornets haven’t won since knocking off West Valley in Week 1 and have had a ton of injuries derail them further. The Spartans’ lone win was in the Tehama County Shootout over Corning in Week 3.
Red Bluff’s Eli Wehbey has the arm to find receivers down field, while big back Jayden Campbell is close to the 1,000 yard rushing mark for Enterprise. Campbell ran for 167 yards and two scores in last week’s loss to Paradise.
Central Valley (3-6, 1-3 Northern Athletic League) at West Valley (8-1, 4-0 NAL), 7:30 p.m.
The luster of the Valley Bowl has dimmed a bit in recent years, but make no mistake, this game matters.
The Falcons would love no more than to head to The Pasture and shock the Eagles. CV has shown ability to score with quarterback Kevin Seaman and running backs Isiah Polk, Will Flowers and Frank Manriquez.
The Eagles’ motivation is multifaceted. West Valley is playing for Tyson Wacker, the junior defensive end who died last week from injuries suffered in an Oct. 18 car crash. Beyond the emotional aspect of that, Greg Grandell’s bunch is playing for the D-III top seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and a chance to win a section title at home in the #Playfor8 quest.
Bailey Sulzer is looking like the area MVP, dominating on both offense and defense. Kitt McCloughan has handled the offense ably and the Eagles defensive has been lights out, as was evident last week in a road shutout of Lassen.
Yreka (1-6, 0-4 NAL) at Anderson (6-3, 2-2 NAL),7:30 p.m.
After a rough stretch, the Cubs seemed to have righted the ship just in time for playoffs. They should get a tune-up with the Miners, whose only win is against winless Trinity.
Yreka didn’t get to play two games due to lingering smoke from the various north state fires, but the Miners give up nearly 33 points per game, while only tallying seven.
Big Blue’s Parker Phillips ran for 181 yards on 20 carries and three scores last week, while Jesse Borders-Rogers added another TD.
University Prep (6-3, 3-1 Mid-Valley League) at East Nicolaus (9-0, 4-0 MVL), 7:30 p.m.
The task is tall, but the Panthers head to East Nic with a shot at the Mid-Valley League title – or a share of it.
U-Prep has shown growth under first-year head coach Darren Trueblood, as quarterback Dylan Cabral and junior running back Riley Seay have been nails on offense. Cabral has thrown for nearly 1,200 yards and 14 scores, while adding 302 yards and six TDs on the ground. Seay has been a workhorse back running for 565 yards on 100 carries and eight TDs.
For the Spartans, junior running backs J.T. Stinson (863 yards and 14 TDS), Gavin McAuliff (729 and 14), Mitch Barker (458 and 7) and senior Isidro Del Toro (507 and 5) punish opposing defenses. East Nic is as stingy on defense as it is prolific on the ground, giving up a measly five points per game.
Fall River (9-0, 7-0 Cascade Valley League) at Burney (0-9, 0-7 CVL), 7:30 p.m.
The Bulldogs should sweep the season series against their Intermountain rivals (they opened the season with a 48-0 Fair Bowl win over the Raiders). Burney and Trinity are the only 11-man programs without a win this season.
Bailey Small, Gavin Dobson, Jeffrey Kask and Cody Jorgensen all make the prolific Fall River offense go. The Bulldogs look to be the odds-on favorite in the Division V playoffs after handling Chester last week.
Division VI – 8-Man Playoffs
Greenville at Tulelake,7 p.m.
Hayfork at Los Molinos, 7 p.m.
Herlong at Big Valley, 7 p.m.
Redding Christian at Princeton, 7 p.m.
For a complete breakdown of the 8-Man opening round matchups, click here.
OTHER NORTHERN SECTION GAMES
Pleasant Valley vs. Paradise at Chico, 7:30 p.m.
Gridley at Wheatland, 7:30 p.m.
Oroville vs. Las Plumas at Harrison Stadium, 7:30 p.m.
Sutter at Orland, 7:30 p.m.
Biggs at Chester, 7:30 p.m.
Maxwell vs. Quincy at Feather River College, 7:30 p.m.
Etna at Modoc, 7:30 p.m.
Trinity at Mt. Shasta, 7:30 p.m.
Hamilton at Williams,7:30 p.m.
Colusa at Live Oak,7:30 p.m.
Durham at Pierce, 7:30 p.m.
Willows at Winters, 7:30 p.m.