The boys of Del Norte Youth Football A White crossed the Pyke Field complex in a single-file line, in the pouring rain, toward Field No. 1 on Thursday night. The Warriors stood along the fence, watching the DNYF AAA team conduct its practice.
One player shouted out a count: One, two, three ...
"GOOD LUCK, TRIPLE-A!"
The AAA boys whooped and hollered momentarily before compressing into a circle. They let out a cheer of their own:
"GOOD LUCK, SINGLE-A!"
Proud to be Warriors, proud to be from Del Norte County, these young kids are.
It will be good to wear the blue and gold at Sunday's Six Rivers Youth Football Conference championships, held at the Redwood Bowl at Humboldt State University in Arcata. Del Norte Youth Football will be represented in all three championship games: A (ages 8andndash;10), AA (ages 11andndash;12) and AAA (ages 13andndash;14).
"This is a huge accomplishment for Del Norte Youth Football," A White coach Danny Forkner said. "I don't ever remember this happening in seven, eight years (of involvement).
"I hope the stands are packed for Del Norte all day."
Forkner's team, 10-0 overall and allowing less than a touchdown per game on defense, takes the field first, at 9:30 a.m. Opposite the No. 1-seed Warriors will be No. 3-seed Eureka Junior League Football Red, a team Del Norte defeated 30-18 on Oct. 14.
Last Sunday, A White got out to a 14-6 first-half lead in its semifinal game against Redwood Youth Football A before playing "the best second half we've played all year" to defeat Redwood, 33-6.
"We're peaking at the right time," Forkner said. "If we play anything like we've been practicing, we'll have a good day Sunday."
One week after eking out a6-0 victory against DNYF AA Gold, the No. 3-seeded DNYF AA Blue team held on for a 6-2 victory against Southern Humboldt Youth Football AA.
"Once again, the defense played awesome," Warriors coach Thogmartin said. "Our offense is just a step away. There were just a couple (plays) where they made shoelace tackles on us."
AA Blue (8-1 overall) lines up against No. 5-seeded Eel River Valley Blue in its championship contest at noon Sunday.
"There's a lot of desire," Thogmartin said. "They're wanting this. The whole team is excited."
DNYF AAA came back from its first-round playoff bye to defeat Redwood AAA, 26-12, on Nov. 4. The Warriors face off against No. 2-seeded McKinleyville Youth Football AAA at 2:30 p.m. Sunday; Del Norte took down McKinleyville, 21-6, on Sept. 23.
"We're as ready as we'll ever be," AAA coach Collin Thomas said. "These players are a great group. I can't think of a group I've coached that's worked harder."
Reach Robert Husseman firstname.lastname@example.org.