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Shasta leans on defense, passing attack to bury Foothill 42-14

Wolves dominate in third straight win

Shasta's Anthony Mazorra (left) and Trey Guilloy (right) tackle Foothill's Cooper Laloli during the first half of Friday night's game in Palo Cedro. Shasta won 42-14 in the Tri Counties Bank Game of the Week. (Mike Daly/Shasta County Sports)

PALO CEDRO – The Wolves left zero doubt in determining who the best football team is in the Shasta Union High School District.

Layton Dunlap threw two touchdowns, senior running back James Weaver returned after a one-game absence with an 84-yard, two-score performance and Bryson Kimp found pay dirt twice as visiting Shasta cruised past Foothill 42-14 Friday night at Bill Johnson Community Stadium in the Tri Counties Bank Game of the Week.

Shasta’s won the past three games convincingly, outscoring Red Bluff, Enterprise and Foothill 127-28 since its season-opening one-point loss to West Valley. Even with the Wolves (3-1) picking up steam en route to the SUHSD District Trophy, all they can think about is a sluggish first half four weeks ago that will likely prevent them from earning the distinction as the best team in Shasta County.

“It is definitely the biggest ‘what if’ in the county,” Dunlap said. “If we had one more quarter or one more game against West Valley to repeat and take advantage of. Unfortunately, we don’t get that opportunity unless something crazy happens but that’s a big ‘what if’ that will haunt people around here for a while.”

Video by Tracy Holmes/Shasta County Sports

Like Shasta, Foothill is wishing it had a do-over for one specific play.

Trailing 21-7 just before half, Foothill’s Caleb Tuggle forced and recovered a Dunlap fumble at the Shasta 29. Quarterback Davis Smith operated the no-huddle offense and pushed the ball inside the 10 with less than 20 seconds to go, trying for a momentum-swinging score. But Zach Wilkes jumped in front of a slant and returned the interception 100 yards for a touchdown on the final play of the second period.

Instead of pulling within one score, Foothill trailed 28-7, a 14-point swing that sent the Cougars somberly into the locker room.

“We put (Smith) in tough spot, we burned timeouts early on so we couldn’t slow it down and get the perfect play call there,” said Foothill head coach Joey Brown.

Shasta’s Bryson Kimp dives over the pile for a 1-yard touchdown run, the first of two scores from the senior. (Mike Daly/Shasta County Sports)

Foothill never recovered from the pick-6. Shasta opened the third with Weaver laying out for a 22-yard diving touchdown catch. Michael Traylor blocked the ensuing Foothill punt, Kimp stretched out for the goal line for a 10-yard touchdown run to go up 42-7 with 3:52 to go in the third.

“This season is so weird, you never really know who you are,” Brown said. “We made mistakes tonight that we haven’t done yet and some things you can’t do in a rivalry game against a really good team like Shasta.”

Foothill fumbled the opening kick, giving Shasta starting field position in Cougar territory. The Wolves had two touchdowns negated from penalties – the first a run from Hunter Pinkston and the second a screen pass to Kimp. But Weaver powered his way over the goal line on sweep from 3-yards out for the first score.

Smith matched it less than three minutes later, scoring on a 5-yard quarterback keeper for the Cougars to even it at 7. Cooper Laloli broke free for a 71-yard run on that drive to set up the score.

Foothill quarterback Davis Smith runs the ball Friday night against Shasta. Smith had 99 rushing yards and a touchdown in the game. (Mike Daly/Shasta County Sports)

Aside of Laloli’s long run and Smith’s 66-yard touchdown run during the running-clock fourth-quarter, the Cougars were held to 102 total yards.

“We had a couple mishaps but we locked in and held up,” said Traylor. “It was a heartbreaker to lose by 1 (to West Valley) but after we shut down (Enterprise’s) Eli Cortinas, we picked up momentum and started rolling and now we have our wheels under us.”

Dunlap was efficient throwing, completing 7-of-8 passes for 188 yards. He connected with Jack Reindel on a 68-yard touchdown throw on a hitch-and-go to put Shasta up 14-7 following Foothill’s touchdown drive.

With both teams possessing a run-heavy offense with stout lines, it was the Wolves’ passing game that emerged as the difference maker. Dunlap credits his success to facing a ferocious defensive unit in practice that gets him ready for anything their opponent can attack with.

“It is the best help that any team can have, having the No. 1 or 2 defense at you in practice four days a week and then you go out to face a lesser defense on Friday nights,” said Dunlap.

Kimp dove over the pile for a 1-yard score to go up 21-7 and Wilkes’ pick-six turned the game in Shasta’s favor for good.

Laloli rushed for 102 yards on 16 carries while Smith ran 13 times for 99 yards and completed 4-of-9 passes for 32 yards.

Weaver rushed nine times for 48 yards and caught two passes for 36 yards while Kimp ran 13 times for 35 yards. Reindel finished with 87 receiving yards on three catches.

Shasta and Foothill square off to end the season April 30 but both have to see Enterprise one last time for one last go-round of the spring season.

“We’re going to have to prep even harder than the first two times and show why we’re the best in the northern part of the area,” Dunlap said.

T.J. is a national-award winning journalist passionate about local news and telling the story no one else knows about. He’s roamed sidelines, baselines and bleachers in the North State since 2010 and is a content producer from sunup to sundown. Sports are a hobby he shares with his wife Tracy where they’ve spent many dates around a field or court of some sort.

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