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Johari Woods, Jerry Fournier etch names in River Bowl lore for clutch performances in Shasta’s 38-26 victory

Shasta fullback Johari Woods etched his name into River Bowl lore by running for 164 yards on Friday - 158 of it in the second half - as the Wolves won River Bowl XXVII 38-26 to keep the trophy on the westside for the fifth straight year. (Photo by Mike Daly / Shasta County Sports)
38 - 26
Full Time

Results

Team1234OTTotalOutcome
Shasta38Overall Win, Win
Enterprise26Overall Loss, Loss

Each year the River Bowl’s score is etched on to the Cup. The history of the rivalry is engraved for all to see, much as the cross-town meeting is ingrained and woven into the fabric of the community.

And from the final score — the one chiseled for future football players to strive for — emerge players who leave their imprint on the game. The names become legends whose press clippings live on forever, even as old-timers’ memories of the exact down and distance fades through the years.

Names like Brody Angley, Anthony Williams, Ryan O’Callaghan, Chace Taylor, Brad Woods and Izzy Matthews for the eastsiders; names like Frank Vanskike, Taylor Jackson, Chris Collins, Kyle Catanese, Troy Lyons and Seth Park for the purple faithful.

Friday, in Shasta’s gritty 38-26 River Bowl win, two names emerged from the Wolfpack’s fifth straight rivalry win to inscribe their names in the game’s lore — fullback Johari Woods and cornerback Jerry Fournier.

The game inside the game is a never-ending volley of strike and counter-strike and Woods and Fournier were key pieces in the chess match that eventually resulted in the Wolves declaring checkmate.

For Woods, the enigmatic, almost kooky senior runner, the night couldn’t have started worse.

With the host Hornets already boasting a 6-0 lead after Eli Cortinas scored on a toss sweep on Enterprise’s first possession, Woods and the Wolves’ offense got their shot. Only the fullback fumbled on his second carry — one of five turnovers by Shasta in a forgettable first half that saw Enterprise build a 16-0 first quarter lead.

The Wolves rushing attack, which has looked dominant in some games and not others, sputtered in fits and starts. Woods had six yards on five carries, James Weaver led the team with 41 yards on five carries and Nathan Bova had six yards on two carries. In fact, it was the passing game led by Derek Myers, who looked like the second coming of Joe Montana with a very efficient 6-of-7 passing for 174 yards and two TD passes as Enterprise took the 19-14 edge into intermission.

But as pedestrian as Woods’ first half was, his second half was one of legend. He ran for 158 second-half yards on 18 carries, busting runs of 18, 36, 44 yards. Most of his play calls were designed between the tackles and Woods either found a seam and daylight or found a defender and chose to run him over.

“It definitely started working because they were working,” Woods said, giving credit to the offensive line of Kane and Bladen Stankey, Aydin Gibson, Logan Thibodeau and Jason Kupono Kealiinohomoku.

And while Woods did much of the heavy lifting, Weaver and Bova were the beneficiary as the junior wing scored twice in the red zone on a pair of two-yards runs and the senior scored from four yards out.

“I think Johari was a little frustrated, he had a rough first half, but what a turnaround,” Shasta coach JC Hunsaker said. “I told him ‘We need to ride you’ because they’re taking away stuff on the outside and the lanes are there. It’s there, trust it and don’t let the first guy take you down and boy did he do that to a T.

“He got downhill, pummeled some dudes and got us into the red zone and they would tighten up and give us they edge and that’s how we scored. If we didn’t bounce back with the interior play of Johari and our O-line, we wouldn’t have come out of this victorious.”

And just as Woods made his mark on the offensive side of the ball, Fournier would be a difference-maker on the defensive side of things, shutting down Enterprise’s quarterback Pierce Embury’s No. 1 target on the night, Jahari Johnson. The sophomore had 263 yards receiving on the season and two scores coming into the River Bowl.

Fournier, who was known as “Sacramento” during his freshman year because he’d moved from there, exudes a quiet confidence and needed all of that as Embury targeted Johnson 14 times on the night, completing three passes to his 6-foot-2 receiver for 53 yards.

Shasta cornerback Jerry Fournier defends a pass intended for Enterprise receiver Jason Butcher in the Wolves’ 38-26 River Bowl XXVII win on Friday. Fournier held his own against an Enterprise passing attack to Butcher and Jahari Johnson, holding each to three catches and one touchdown. (Photo by Mike Daly / Shasta County Sports)

“I respect that guy, hella,” Fournier said. “He’s got major speed and he’s only a sophomore.

“I just tried to play man and focus on my guy, trust my teammates and everything went well.”

Most of the night, Fournier was locked up in man coverage on Johnson, alone on an island where you either sink or swim. The Shasta senior was especially locked on at the end of the half, when the Hornets, with a first-and-10 on the Shasta 23, took three straight shots at Fournier with Johnson and had to settle for a 40-yard Jason Butcher field goal as time expired in the half.

“Boy, he came up big on a lot of moments tonight,” Hunsaker said. “He’s not the most the most athletic DB we have in our section, he might not be the most athletic DB we have on our team, but by God he’s a fighter. He never gives up, he’s the most coachable kid we have on the defense.”

Johnson doubled his reception total in the second half, but Fournier made him works for the 39 yards with physical play and punishing tackles that taxed the two-way player who also had an interception on defense for the Hornets.

“There were some long 9s and that guy has Jerry by seven or eight inches and he’s putting his body in the right position to where it has to be a perfect ball,” Hunsaker said. “Jerry just finds a way to get it done and without him playing the long ball the way he did tonight, again, there’s a lot of reason why we could’ve walked out of here with the wrong outcome. But we did enough.”

And while Fournier and his defensive backfield mates of Charles Dietrich, Jack Reindel and Alex Beltran were holding down the back end during the second 24 minutes, it allowed Shasta linebackers to dial up blitzes that led to three second-half sacks of Embury.

“It was a rough start, but a great finish,” Hunsaker said. “It’s a rivalry game and we talk about it (throwing the records out), you just don’t hope you have to live it and we had to live it tonight.”

And years from now, when future players look at the River Bowl trophy engraving that reads “38-26” those who were there will also have the names Woods and Fournier etched in the River Bowl XXVII lore.

Aaron Williams has been involved in the North State sports scene for nearly two decades. He spent eight years as the Sports Editor for the local newspaper and another four more as the voice of high school football on the radio. Williams has coached various sports at the high school level over the past decade, most recently at Shasta High, and is also the public address announcer for the Shasta College football and basketball teams.

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