Quarterfinal X-Factors: Shasta at Foothill

Shasta High’s Brayden Coon runs the ball against Foothill on Oct. 26 and finished with over 100 yards rushing in that game. (Photo by Mike Daly/Shasta County Sports)

It was only two weeks ago these two squared off and Foothill proved it was the better team — which is why Shasta has to head a few miles east to Palo Cedro at Bill Johnson Community Stadium for the Redding Rancheria Game of the Week.

But the rematch in the Northern Section Division II quarterfinal is expected to be more exciting with two offenses that can score and with a “win or go home” mentality for both teams.

Here are some players to watch for the quarterfinal playoff game:

Brayden Coon, RB, Shasta, Sr.
Coon has been a spark plug for the Wolves all season and is one of the most athletic kids on the field at any given time. He had over 100 yards rushing in the last meeting with Foothill and is dangerous as a receiver, too, when he gets the ball. If Coon can get in open space, be ready for the Pack to celebrate 6.

Bladen Stankey, G/DE, Shasta, So.
Remember that saying — games are won or lost in the trenches? The 6-foot-2, 220-pound sophomore called “Lil Stank” figures to be a big factor in the game, blocking for a Wolves offense that has shown flashes of being dynamic. On defense, he’ll be challenged with plugging the running lanes and getting off of blocks to corral Bryce Henderson and Jayden Gordon will be one aspect to keep an eye on as the game develops.

Jayden Gordon, QB/DB, Foothill, Sr.
One of the most exciting players in the Northern Section was held in check last week’s loss to Chico and he still ended up with over 200 yards of total offense. As dangerous Gordon is running and throwing the ball, his defense as of late adds to his MVP-caliber resume. He can shut plays down early with his downhill speed as shown with his team-leading 93 tackles through nine games. The next player has 57. Oh, and his 2,283 total yards and 30 TDs aren’t too shabby, either.

Brandon Merryman, WR/DB, Foothill, Jr.
This is a player who has to get going for Foothill to have success. And it comes on both sides of the ball. He’s Gordon’s favorite target and the guy he looks for on fourth down situations. He has poise to make the big play and has made spectacular interceptions on defense. Merryman also caught two touchdowns catches, seven tackles and two interceptions in the last meeting with Shasta.

OTHERS:
Bryson Kimp, FB, Shasta, So.
Dom Hicks, WR/S, Shasta, Sr.
Chris Ostergren, WR/DB, Foothill, Jr.
Bryce Henderson, RB, Foothill, Jr.

About T.J. Holmes

T.J. is a national award-winning journalist who has roamed sidelines, baselines and bleachers in the North State since 2010. He shares his passion for sports and the community with his fiancé Tracy, who works alongside him as a videographer for Shasta County Sports. Story tip: shastacountysports@gmail.com.

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