The football season begins anew this week for most of Colusa County’s prep football squads, as the Northern Section playoffs begin on Friday.
Arbuckle, Colusa, Williams and Maxwell each learned of their playoff fates following the Northern Section’s playoff seeding meeting on Saturday in Red Bluff. Each qualified for the playoffs this season.
Colusa (7-3) earned the highest seed of any county team – ending up as the No. 4 seed in the Division IV bracket. The RedHawks finished third in the Sacramento Valley League this year, with league losses to Durham and Winters.
Last season, the RedHawks were the No. 5 seed, and made it to the semifinals before falling to the eventual champions, East Nicolaus.
As the No. 4 seed this season, Colusa earned a home playoff game in the first round. The RedHawks host No. 5 seed Mt. Shasta (5-3) in Colusa on Friday at 6 PM. With a win, Colusa will face the winner between No. 1 Durham and No. 8 Hamilton in the semifinals on Nov. 16.
On the other side of the Division IV bracket are No. 6 seed Pierce and No. 7 seed Williams. Despite getting the No. 6 seed, the Bears (5-4) – who finished fourth in the Sacramento Valley League standings – open the playoffs against undefeated East Nicolaus (10-0). Last year, Pierce was the No. 3 seed, and fell to Durham in the semifinals.
This year, the Mid-Valley League champion Spartans are a team that Pierce head coach Anthony Tapia believes is the best in the division, despite being seeded behind No. 1 Durham and No. 2 Winters – the Sacramento Valley League’s top two teams – due to East Nicolaus’ weaker strength of schedule.
“I’m not taking anything away from them… Winters’ schedule was tough. Our league is tough,” Tapia said. “They played a bunch of bigger, competitive schools in the preseason… (But) probably the best team in D-IV got the No. 3 seed. It was kind of a unanimous shock for the committee and the coaches who attended (the seeding meeting).”
Tapia added he had anticipated Pierce would receive the No. 5 seed, but Mt. Shasta leap-frogged the Bears after getting credit for a forfeit win in a game against Yreka that was canceled due to smoke.
Pierce will travel to Trowbridge for the second time this season, having lost to the Spartans 38-6 on Sept. 14. If the Bears can pull off an upset of the Spartans (who haven’t lost a game to a Northern Section opponent since Sept. 18, 2015) they will play the winner between No. 7 seed Williams and No. 2 seed Winters in the semifinals.
The Yellowjackets (5-4) finished fourth in the Mid-Valley League table, behind East Nicolaus, Mt. Shasta, and University Prep. Last year, they were the No. 8 seed after Willows opted to drop out of the playoffs. Williams lost to eventual champions East Nicolaus 46-13 in the opening round.
This season, Williams will have to beat Winters (9-1) on the road in order to advance out of the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2015, when they lost to East Nicolaus in the finals.
Moving on to Division V, Maxwell earned the No. 6 seed, and travels to play No. 3 seed Chester on Friday at 7 PM.
The Panthers are back in the playoffs this season after failing to qualify last year for the first time in more than a decade. This season, Maxwell (5-5) finished seventh in the newly-formed Cascade Valley League this year. Chester (7-3) finished three spots ahead of the Panthers in the league standings.
On Friday, the Panthers look to avenge their Oct. 12 loss to the Volcanoes. An injury-depleted Maxwell team hung tough with Chester, but ultimately fell 16-6 at home. Maxwell will come into the game the healthiest they have been since their game against Western Sierra Collegiate Academy on Aug. 31.
“It’s really nice to be healthy for the first time since Week 2,” Maxwell head coach Russ Jones said on Monday, adding that the Panthers win over Quincy last week shook up the Division V bracket.
If the Panthers win on Friday, they play No. 2 seed Biggs in the semifinals. Biggs has a bye in the opening round. ■