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3 DN Youth FB teams remain in playoff hunt

Nick Bray (top left) of the Del Norte Gold Ponies football team during practice on Thursday.  (The Daily Triplicate/Bryant Anderson).
Nick Bray (top left) of the Del Norte Gold Ponies football team during practice on Thursday. (The Daily Triplicate/Bryant Anderson).

By Bill Choy

Triplicate Sports Editor

CRESCENT CITY — It has been a very productive year for the Del Norte Youth Football League.

All four teams made the Six Rivers Championship Playoffs, with three still left. The A division Del Norte Ponies Blue team lost on Sunday to Eureka.

The remaining squads are the A division Del Norte Ponies Gold team, the No.1 seed, made up of 8 and 9 year olds, the Del Norte Mavericks of the AA division, the No. 2 seed, consisting of 10 and 11 year olds, and the AAA division Del Norte Mustangs, the No. 1 seed, made up of 12 and 13 year olds.

If they win on Sunday at Brookings, the teams will head to their respective championships the next weekend at the Redwood Bowl on the Humboldt State University campus in Arcata.

At practice on Thursday, all three teams were hard at work getting ready for Sunday, hoping they will still be playing next week.

The Ponies Gold team is 6-1 for the year and first year coach Danny Forkner said his team has made strides and come together as a group.

"They're playing great" he said. "I like our team. We've come a long way since August." He added the squad is solid on both offense and defense and does not give up many points. The most was 19 points this year.

Todd Holmes, a member of the coaching staff, said the young players have really developed. Many have gone from not knowing "really how to play," to knowing their positions and being bale to go down the field and tackle their opponent. Steven Maready, 10, said he and his fellow players are excited about the playoffs

"It's fun to play," he said. "Even though you have to work hard so you can win games and get in shape."

The Mavericks are 7-1 for the season. Coach Dave Smith said he has enjoyed this year's group and said the kids are having fun and playing well.

"They're really focused," he said, adding for such young players the team has done a good job of understanding the game of football and executing well. He said the team is executing on both offense and defense, and he and his players expect to do well on Sunday.

Dalton Alexandre, 11, plays running back and said he enjoys the sport. He said his older brothers play for the high school junior varsity and varsity teams, and he's pleased to be playing too.

" It's really a fun sport," he said. "I like the feeling of crossing the goal line for a touchdown."

The Del Norte Mustangs are 7-1 for the year. Head coach Pat Terry has coached the team for six years and said "this is the best team" he's coached.

He said his team has depth on all sides of the ball and is a terrific group of athletes and football players

"It's really exciting to watch them play," he said, adding the team is focused on winning a championship this year.

"We're man-for-man the best team in the league," he said. Terry added a number of players, he believes, will make an impact when they reach high school.

One player he feels is developing into a good football player is Barrick Sala, 13, who is already 6 foot 1 and 200 pounds. He plays right tackle on offense and middle linebacker on defense.

"He just blows guys up," with his speed and size Terry said. Other players Terry said have been doing well include fullback Austin Moore, who he said is very strong and can run the ball well and quarterback Julian Markussen. He said he is "a really intelligent player and very competitive."

Sala said he's enjoyed playing with the Mustangs this year.

"We're all good friends," he said. "We work well together."

On Sunday at 9:30 a.m. in the A division, the Ponies Gold team takes on the No. 4 seed, Eureka Loggers.

At noon, the Mavericks of the AA group face the No. 6 seed Southern Humboldt Bulldogs.

At 2:30 p.m., the No. 1 Mustangs of the AAA division face the No. 4 seed Hoopa Warriors.

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