Shasta College eager to open the season at Chabot Saturday

Shasta College head coach Craig Thompson addresses his team after a practice on Tuesday in preparation of Saturday’s season-opener (T.J. Holmes/Shasta County Sports).

Two words can make Shasta College receiver Patrick Blake smile like a kid on Christmas morning – ‘game day.’

The Shasta College football team goes on the road in the season opener Saturday at Chabot College in Hayward for a 6 p.m. kickoff.

“I don’t know if there’s a feeling out there that beats this one,” said Blake, a sophomore who came through with catches in big moments during the Knights’ CCCAA American Division Championship season in 2017. “Waking up Monday morning and knowing this whole week we have Saturday morning and evening to look forward to…it’s one of the best feelings in the world.”

Shasta is tied for the second-longest winning streak for junior college (JUCO) football programs with seven, dating back to last year as the Knights ran the table after starting the year 0-3. They were one play from 0-4 until Blake hauled in a Trent Darms pass in the final seconds to beat Feather River and ignite a confidence that carried them the rest of the season.

But there’s a lot of new players on the roster, including sophomore quarterback Will James out of Chicago who is looking to lead the Knights against a Gladiator team coming off a 2-8 season.

“I’m excited to see Will in action and how he truly responds in live game situations, how he controls and commands the offense and how it begins to work with him leading this unit,” said Shasta College head coach Craig Thompson, who begins his 23rd season at the helm.

Thompson is more excited about seeing Shasta’s defense take the field, mainly in hopes the defensive line can live up to Thompson’s expectations and wreaks havoc on Chabot. The Knights can rotate seven guys deep with returners Logan German and Brannon Litz, and newcomers Detrius Kelsall, Massen Newton, Shane Mitchell, Payton Harrell and Cole Parker.

“It’s the making of having a dominant defensive line that can be quick, explosive and a dynamic group,” Thompson said.

Shasta will have to be to face Chabot’s shifty quarterback, who likes to orchestrate a quick-hitting passing offense. The Knights’ offense needs to be aware of the Gladiator’s two inside linebackers at all times, who dictate the defense, Thompson said.

ALL-TIME SERIES

Chabot 2-0 (have not played since 1973).

BY THE NUMBERS

12 — Shasta College has 12 wins in 22 season-openers under head coach Craig Thompson, who is 11-11 in the first road game of the year during his tenure for the Knights.

IMPACT PLAYER

Will James (QB), Shasta, So. — The Knights’ quarterback has experience at the D-I and D-II level and brings his talents to Shasta. The native Chicagoan is built like a linebacker (6-2, 225) and can scoot, meaning defenses better stay honest or this guy will run all day on an opponent. His experience has helped him learn the playbook quickly – more than 200 plays have been installed in less than three weeks of camp – meaning the Knights’ offense isn’t going to have too many limitations.

TODAY IN HISTORY

Sept. 1, 2007 — The only time Shasta has played on Sept. 1 in program history was a 52-7 loss to Sierra College to open the 2007 season. Shasta’s only touchdown was on a 13-yard run from Ryan Krueger with 3:58 left in the game. Krueger finished with 43 yards on seven carries in the game, Will Camy, in his first start, completed 11 of 19 passes for 56 yards, and Brandon Smith led all Shasta receivers with five catches for 42 yards. Shasta went 1-9 that year before going 9-2 the following season.

LISTEN TO THE GAME

You can listen to the game at ShastaSportsNetwork.com – Gary Moore and Dan Miller will be broadcasting on a YouTube link, providing play-by-play and score updates on the digicast.

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.

View all posts by T.J. Holmes

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