Del Norte County's unofficial Civil War came and went with nary a cross word or impolite gesture exchanged. A few penalty flags here and there, sure, but that's par for the course in youth football.
In the end, Del Norte Youth Football's AA Blue team advanced in the Six Rivers Youth Football Conference playoffs, knocking off DNYF AA Gold by a 6-0 score Sunday afternoon at Del Norte High School. Howard Soule's first-quarter touchdown run represented the difference in the game.
"They played their hearts out. Both teams," said DNYF AA Blue coach Mark Thogmartin. "When teams know their plays, it's just about who's going to stuff it. They take advantage of everything they can."
Indeed, AA Blue managed to stop AA Gold on fourth down multiple times, but AA Gold returned the favor with two goal-line stands, including one in the fourth quarter that figured to turn the tide of the game.
"Football is a game of inches," AA Gold coach Jesse Puente said. "We gave up a few more inches than they did."
Each team committed three turnovers. Soule and Mason Mitchell intercepted passes for AA Blue, with Mitchell recovering a fumble in the third quarter. Cole Harper, Collin Mattz and Braydan Teague each recovered a fumble for AA Gold.
Both squads use the same offensive and defensive schemes, co-opted from the Del Norte High Warriors. Both teams practice adjacent to each other at Crescent Elk Middle School (though Thogmartin moved his team away from AA Gold in the week before the playoff game).
Both coaches admitted to getting very little sleep in the week running up to the playoff game.
"I was nervous, pacing all day," Thogmartin admitted.
AA Blue (7-1 overall) travels to Arcata High School Sunday for a noon semifinal game against Southern Humboldt Youth Football AA at McKinleyville High School. AA Gold finished its season out with a 6-3 record.
In other playoff action Sunday, the No. 1-seeded DNYF A White team rolled over Curry Youth Football A, 31-0.
Warriors players Connor Long, Joey Wainscott and Damien Dowd all rushed for touchdowns, and Down threw a touchdown pass to Daylen O'Reilley. A White also recorded two safeties on defense.
"Our defense played tough today," A White coach Danny Forkner said. "Our offense at first didn't play very well but figured it out."
The Warriors (9-0 overall) advance to face Redwood Youth Football A on Sunday for a 10 a.m. semifinal game at Fortuna High School.
No. 2-seed DNYF A Gold needed a late safety, courtesy of Anthony Slayton, to edge McKinleyville Youth Football A Black, 14-12. O.J. Calleja scored two rushing touchdowns as the Warriors advanced to the semifinals.
"It was a tough game," A Gold coach Ray Berry said. "The defense got us a win."
The Warriors (8-1 overall) take on Eureka Junior League Football A Red in a 10 a.m. semifinal game Sunday at McKinleyville High School.
The DNYF AAA team had a first-round bye Sunday. It will face Redwood Youth Football AAA in its first playoff game, Sunday at 2 p.m. at Fortuna High School.
Reach Robert Husseman at firstname.lastname@example.org .