Should it turn out that the West Valley High Eagles were the toughest opponent on Del Norte High's 2013 regular-season schedule, many prognosticators will say they saw it coming.
West Valley - whom the Warriors will face Friday night in Cottonwood - finished its 2012 season 11-2 overall (4-1 Northern Athletic League) and made it to the California Interscholastic Federation Northern Section Division 2 championship game. (The Eagles fell to Sutter High, 38-31.)
Seventeen of 22 starters return and have set their sights on similarly lofty goals. The Record Searchlight newspaper of Redding reported that West Valley players yelled "Sutter!" during conditioning sessions to remind them of the loss.
The junior varsity game will begin at 5 p.m., followed by the varsity game at 7:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast on radio station KPOD 97.9 FM beginning at 7 p.m.
The Warriors opened last season against West Valley on Aug. 24, 2012, in Crescent City. Three lost fumbles helped the Eagles open up
a 41-0 halftime lead over Del Norte; West Valley eventually won 41-6.
"Not to take anything away from the other teams on our schedule," Warriors head coach Ray Rook said, "but (West Valley) is one of the best-prepared teams we'll face all year."
Eagles running back Austin Clark and fullback Brady Casselman combined to rush for over 2,700 yards and 36 touchdowns as juniors last season, and West Valley returns its top wide receiver in Marcus Simmons (seven touchdowns). Six-foot-three junior Kody Karpinski will make his varsity debut against Del Norte as the Eagles' quarterback.
The National Weather Service has forecast a high temperature of 95 degrees in Redding on Friday - a sunny day, but a hot one. The low temperature forecast is 66 degrees.
West Valley remains something of an unfamiliar opponent, but one image has stuck out to the Warriors: The maroon helmets the Eagles wear.
During offseason workouts, Del Norte players began a practice known informally as "maroon reps."
"If you have to do 10 push-ups, you do 11," senior wide receiver/cornerback David Sathe explained. "It's one extra rep."
All the better to prepare for a formidable opponent.
Reach Robert Husseman at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Del Norte starters
QB: Dylan Pease, sr.
RB: Jordan Carpenter, sr.; Chad Bell, jr.; Matthew Coopman, jr.
WR: David Sathe, sr.; Josiah Johnson, sr.
LT: Jacob LeBlanc, jr.
LG: Eric Lo, sr.
C: Alan Olivera, sr.
RG: Cristian Puente, sr.
RT: David Plechaty, sr.
NG: Eric Turner, sr.
DE: David Plechaty, sr.; Colton Davis, jr.
MLB: Napooi Shorty, jr.
ILB: Chad Bell, jr.; Steven Maready, jr.
OLB: Jordan Carpenter, sr.; Robin Pearce, sr.
CB: David Sathe, sr.; Matthew Coopman, jr.
S: Dylan Pease, sr.
K/P: Jonathan Calderon, jr.
KR: Jordan Carpenter, sr.; Chad Bell, jr.; Steven Maready, jr.; Matthew Coopman, jr.
H: Dylan Pease, sr.
LS: Alec Westbrook, jr.