Two Del Norte Youth Football teams earn No. 1 playoff seeds
This much is certain: One Del Norte Youth Football team will see its season end in the first round of the Six Rivers Youth Football Conference playoffs.
Courtesy of Kathryn Forkner The Del Norte Youth Football A White team, above, and the DNYF AAA team both enter the Six Rivers Youth Football Conference playoffs with a No. 1 seed. Playoff action begins on Sunday at Del Norte High School.
In the Six Rivers AA bracket, No. 3-seeded DNYF AA Blue faces off against No. 6 DNYF AA Gold Sunday at Del Norte High School at 2 p.m. The two AA teams did not meet up during the regular season.
“That one hurts a little bit, but oh well,” AA Gold coach Jesse Puente said. “We’ve just got to go play football.”
“I think it’ll probably be the hardest playoff game (the kids might play),” AA Blue coach Mark Thogmartin said. “(The kids are) going to hear about it the whole year. They’re going to hear about it two hours later, down at Pizza Hut.”
The members of AA Blue (6-1 overall) and AA Gold (6-2 overall) are intimately familiar with each other, attending school together and playing together on other sports teams. They both practice on the fields at Crescent Elk Middle School, a football’s throw from each other.
“We know their offense; they know our offense,” Puente said. “It’s going to be about who gets stops. It’s going to be a good game.”
This week, however, AA Blue switched its practice space with the DNYF A Gold team, providing some separation between the two teams. It is an uneasy arrangement for Thogmartin and Puente, members of the Del Norte Youth Football board.
“In an ideal situation, we meet in the championship game,” Puente said. “We’ve got to treat them like any other team. Hopefully, at the end of the day, we’ll still be friends.”
“It’s like looking in a mirror,” Thogmartin said of the matchup. “I want my team to always do their best, but I’m attached to (all) these kids.”
In the A bracket, DNYF A White earned the No. 1 seed with a 31-6 victory over McKinleyville Youth Football A Black on Oct. 21 at Del Norte High School. Coach Danny Forkner’s squad has allowed 30 points total in its eight games, fewest of any DNYF team this season.
The Warriors (8-0 overall) are matched up with Curry Youth Football of Brookings in Sunday’s first-round matchup, at 10 a.m. at Del Norte High School.
“Our offense and defense have both been consistent,” Forkner said. “We’ve been very disciplined — we’ve had very few penalties.”
Del Norte A Gold parlayed a 7-1 overall record into the A bracket No. 2 seed. The Warriors will play McKinleyville A Black at noon Sunday at Del Norte High School.
“The whole team’s playing at a good level,” coach Ray Berry said. “Being ranked No. 2 behind another Del Norte team is not bad.”
The No. 1-seeded DNYF AAA team, coached by Collin Thomas, has a first-round bye in the Six Rivers AAA playoff bracket. The Warriors will face the winner of Ferndale Youth Football AAA and Redwood Youth Football AAA on Nov. 4 at Fortuna High School at 2 p.m.
Del Norte wrapped up an 8-0 season with its fourth shutout of the year, over Eel River Valley on Oct. 21.
Del Norte Youth Football won the AA championship last season, as an undefeated AA Gold team brought the hardware back to Del Norte County. Come Sunday, DNYF is guaranteed to lose one team, but could gain much more in the playoffs.
“As an organization, you can’t ask for more,” Forkner said.