For the second year in a row the Del Norte Youth Football team still had three teams alive on the last day of the Six Rivers Youth Football season. Del Norte A Gold, and both the Del Norte AA teams were in action at the Redwood Bowl on the Humboldt State University Campus with a league championship on the line.
It was the second year in a row that the Del Norte teams in the AA division faced off against one another for a Six Rivers championship.
“It is always exciting to have and All-Del Norte championship because we are taking our kids here, splitting them in half and still have enough talent to beat everybody else in the league,” said Del Norte Gold AA coach, and DNYF vice president Clinton Schaad. “League beware if and when these teams ever get together — wether it is next year in AAA or at the high school level. When all that talent gets on one team it is going to be one heck of a squad. It will be fun to watch them all play together.”
While the future looks bright, a Del Norte Blue against Del Norte Gold game for a league title adds a little tension to the present.
“It is nice when it is an All-Del Norte game, but at the same time it is nerve-wracking,” Schaad said. “It is not just that you are going to play a faceless team that you may not even be able to pick out of a crowd without their uniform on. When we play each other it is always exciting because the kids know each other from school. We are trying to play that chess match as coaches, and the kids get worked up for it. It isn’t really a rivalry — that isn’t the proper term — but it is exciting to have future teammates who are maybe even related playing against each other.”
Del Norte Gold ended up pulling away from their Blue counterparts for a 31-7 win in the AA game.
Del Norte Gold A was the other Warrior team in action on Sunday, taking on top-seeded and still undefeated Eureka in the championship game.
The Del Norte Gold played the Loggers tough, but big plays for touchdowns at the end of the first half and another near the end of the game allowed Eureka to pull out a 19-0 win for the Single A title.
“Single A gold really had a good year,” Schaad said. “They had a really great season — obviously to make it all the way to the championship game and they fell just short. It ended up being a 19-point game, but the first time they played Eureka it was a lot larger spread. So they played pretty well in the championship game.”
Although the season as a whole has certainly been successful for the Del Norte Youth Football program, it has become somewhat of a norm recently as the Warriors turned in a similar performance with three teams in the championship game last year as well.
“I would say that it has been the consistency in the coaching,” said Del Norte Youth Football president Barry Neilson, of the program’s recent success. “Clinton Schaad and Mark Thogmartin have really lead the way. They have been the guys there for the last couple years really pushing things. There are a lot of coaches to thank. I would prefer to hide in the background and let the coaches take all the credit really. They have done all the work — they have taught these kids left and right, and it is an amazing thing to watch. They really take it to heart.”
Del Norte had a total of five teams this year with two teams apiece in Single A and Double A. The Warriors had one Triple A team this year.
“Our Triple A team had a great year too,” Schaad said. “They kind of stumbled in the semifinals, but if they could have that game back maybe they make the championship game as well. The Single A Blue team I think only missed the playoffs by one game. So Del Norte football is doing really well. I want to encourage more kids to come out and participate.”
In all, Neilson said the program had over 140 players throughout the season in addition to 70 cheerleaders, which he said is well above average for the cheerleaders and a pretty good total for the football teams as well.
“In general I think everything went really, really well,” Neilson said. “All of the coaches worked really well with the kids on the new tackling and watching your helmet. I think the kids were happy that our program never got rained on the whole season — that was a big plus. Now we get to see former players from our league play for a championship with Del Norte football at the high school level. It gives the kids something to look forward to.”
The Del Norte High School team is currently in the midst of a run through the North Coast Section playoffs and has already reached the semifinals as the No. 2 seed in the tournament. Neilson said he believes that the success at the varsity level trickles down and affects the youth program as well.
“I think that helps keeps the kids interested, and I think it gives the kids something to shoot for,” Neilson said. “Plus a lot of the coaches right now in the high school were also affiliated with Del Norte Youth Football at one point. So there is communication going on between both of those. A lot of the kids here are learning the high school program already, so it helps them to be even more in tune.”
Neilson also said that the program’s parental support has been vital to its success.
“Our parents are probably some of the most supportive parents that I have seen,” he said. “One of the biggest complaints of some of the other leagues that we play against is that they don’t have as much parent participation as we do. That is really a big plus. It is almost competitive, even, between gold and blue. They support their kids so well and so fiercely that they are all there, and they are almost competing against the other parents while cheering. That’s a big thing because it helps the kids stay more focused and more interested in it.
“I want to give a huge thanks to all the extended efforts of many of our helpful parents — especially our board though. The crew did a great job of really making it as smooth as we could for the kids and that is the end goal. We want to have those kids out on the field and having a good time.”
Reach Michael Zogg at firstname.lastname@example.org .