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NAL breakdown: Everyone’s chasing reigning champ West Valley

Breaking down what each team in the Northern Athletic League has for the 2019 season.

West Valley, which is pictured celebrating its 2018 NSCIF Division III title win over Sutter, is the favorite to win the Northern Athletic League for the third year in a row. (Mike Daly/Shasta County Sports)

The defending Northern Athletic League champions appear to be ready to reclaim their crown, but Anderson, Lassen and even Central Valley know they’re building to challenge West Valley.

Back-to-back NAL titles mean the Eagles aren’t to be taken lightly. With an expected improved offense and a defense that reportedly held Pleasant Valley to less than 20 yards on offense in their Aug. 16 scrimmage — the defense appears it hasn’t lost a step from last year’s record-setting unit. The NAL crown will likely have to run through The Pasture once again.

Here’s a little brief about each NAL team and their outlook for 2019.

Anderson Cubs

Big Blue returns two starters on an offensive line averaging 280 pounds. Dual-threat QB Mason Fuentes and athletic WRs Marquice Crowell and Christian Teague make this offense potent. As long as Cody Crawford sets the tone on defense, Anderson can push for a section title.

First game: Aug. 30 vs. Red Bluff

Central Valley Falcons

First-year coach Aaron Richards has optimism the Falcons are buying into his system. The former West Valley player and coach will rely on a small sample of seniors, including QB Kevin Seaman and linebacker Frank Manriquez while continuing to build toward future success in Shasta Lake.

First game: Aug. 30 vs. Trinity

Corning Cardinals

Third-year QB Devin Toth controls the tempo and has Jakob Grootveld, Brady Long and Hugo Torres to do damage on the outside and lead the defensive backfield. The run-first Cards deploy a new backfield and O-line, leaving coach John Studer to rely on youth to stay afloat in a stacked NAL.

First game: Aug. 30 at Shasta

Lassen Grizzlies

The Grizzlies are going to feel the effects of graduating more than two-thirds of their roster from last year, having to replace their leading passer, rusher and receiver. But that doesn’t mean longtime head coach Tom St. Jacques won’t have his guys ready and push as a perennial NAL contender.

First game: Aug. 30 vs. Las Plumas

West Valley Eagles

The defending NAL and D-III champs are favorites to repeat thanks to preseason MVP Cade Lambert and talent like QB Kitt McCloughan and RB Josh Aguilar. “The Pack” defense reloads with playmakers Lambert, Aguilar and Garrett Thibodeau, and projects as a top defense once again.

First game: Aug. 23 vs. Shasta

Yreka Miners

Defensive coordinator Brian Wagy takes over after a 1-7 season, Yreka’s first one-win season since 1999. He’ll likely return QB Trey Setzer and RB/DB Jacob Peterson, who led the Miners in rushing (498 Yds, 2 TDs) and INTs (3) last year. The Miners haven’t been above .500 in the NAL since 2007.

First game: Aug. 30 at Del Norte

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

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