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Tri Counties Bank Game of the Week preview: Shasta at West Valley

Shasta and defending Northern Section Division III champion West Valley square off in the Tri Counties Bank Game of the Week.

Shasta's Bladen Stankey and West Valley's Cade Lambert lead their teams into a Sub-Zero Week showdown in Cottonwood on Friday.

If things go right for Shasta and West Valley, each could be battling for a section title come November. Which makes Friday’s opening-night matchup between the Wolves and Eagles at Cottonwood’s Pasture that much more intriguing.

And while this is opening week, the Shasta County Sports Tri Counties Bank Game of the Week would probably be better served as a late-season battle royale.

The teams ended 2018 on opposite sides of the spectrum — the Wolves finished a disappointing 3-8, while the Eagles kept a promise and won the Northern Section Division III title for fallen teammate before falling in the NorCal Regional final.

They each enter 2019 with high expectations. Shasta hopes to use the experienced gained in the sub-par season to its advantage, much like the 2016 Wolves squad did in reaching in the state title game following a mediocre season. West Valley looks to keep rolling, replacing key cogs rather than retooling entirely.

Who: Shasta at West Valley
Where: The Pasture, Cottonwood
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Listen: KCNR 1460 AM / ShastaSportsNetwork.com

Shasta (3-8 in 2018)

Outlook: The Wolves return a ton of talent on both sides of the ball — eight who saw significant time on defense and seven on offense. Kirk Ramage’s defense looks to be the strength of the squad, which says a bunch considering the Wolves return three-fifths of its O-line and feature back wing James Weaver.

Key Players

Logan Thibodeau, G/DE — The fullback-turned-lineman has embraced the role and has the speed and build to punish defenders on the pull or trap. Combined with fellow guard Bladen Stankey, the pair should open gigantic holes for the Wolves’ backs.

Isaiah Pena, LB — The leader of Ramage’s Werewolves’ defense, Pena had a full year last season to grasp the defense and is adept at run-stopping, cover the pass and blitzing the quarterback.

Keiton Spengler, DE — A force on the edge, Spengler was an all-league selection last year and might be the best end in the section.

Josh Akana, LB — Underrated, Akana has the speed to cover the flats on a pass, but make no mistake … he can lay a lick.

Derek Meyers, QB — After missing last season, the QB is back and fighting for the starting nod. He’s got all the measurables and a cannon of an arm.

West Valley (12-2, NorCal Regional finalist)

Outlook: Fresh off a trip to the NorCal Regional finals, Dub-V Nation looks to fill in the holes left by graduation and shift on the fly to 2019. A core of returners at key positions should ease the transition as the Eagles take on Redding’s ‘Big 3’ in the first three games of the year.

Key Players

Kitt McCloughan, QB — The Eagles’ signal-caller has weapons surrounding him and a year of confidence in guiding Dub-V.

Josh Aguilar, FB/LB — The junior runs hard, with deceptive speed, and isn’t afraid to take on a would-be defender.

Cade Lambert, RB/LB — The focal point of the offense and leader of the defense, the senior steps into the leadership role of the graduated Bailey Sulzer.

Garrett Thibodeau, LB/S — A difference-maker on defense, the hybrid is capable of stopping the run and bulked up over the summer.

Brayden Smith, T — Returns for his senior year after helping pave the way last season for Sulzer’s 2,054 yards rushing.

OTHER GAMES

Williams (0-0) at Paradise (0-0), 7:30 p.m.
Pleasant Valley (0-0) at Del Oro (0-0), 7 p.m.

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

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