By Ray Hamill — The Six Rivers Youth Football playoffs get under way this weekend, with three games at both Ferndale and McKinleyville high schools on a packed day of action on Sunday.
The top two seeds in each of the three age groups will have a bye until the following week, with the Nos. 3 through 6 seeds battling it out to keep their seasons going.
The playoffs follow an eight-week regular season that kicked off back in August and will culminate on Nov. 11 with three championship games at the Redwood Bowl.
This year, top-seeded Ferndale has been the team to beat in AAA, with a perfect 7-0 march through the regular season.
Del Norte and McKinleyville each went 5-2, with the Crescent City team getting the nod for the second seed courtesy of their head-to-head record.
As the No. 3 seed, McKinleyville opens on Sunday at home to No. 6 Redwood (2-5), whom the Mack players defeated 20-12 last month.
In the other opening-round showdown, No. 4 Hoopa (3-3) will play No. 5 Eel River Valley (2-5) at Ferndale High.
Both AAA games are scheduled for 2:30 p.m.
Top seeds for Eureka
Earlier in the day, a pair of A games will get the action under way at 9:30 a.m.
Eureka Junior League went a perfect 8-0 in the regular season to earn the top seed, followed by No. 2 Eel River Valley, which was 6-2.
No. 3 Del Norte Gold was also 6-2 this year and will open on Sunday against McKinleyville (2-6) at Mack High, while No. 4 Redwood (5-3) will play No. 5 Ferndale (4-4) at Ferndale High.
Eureka also earned the top seed in AA with a perfect 8-0 mark, followed by Del Norte Gold at 7-1.
In opening-round action, No. 3 McKinleyville will host No. 6 Redwood (2-6), while No. 4 Ferndale (4-4) will host No. 5 Del Norte Blue (3-5).
Both AA games are scheduled for noon.
The Six Rivers Youth Football features 700 local kids in their football and cheerleading programs.
The players are aged between 8 and 14 and must be pre-high school, and are split between 23 teams at the three different age levels.
Each team also has its own cheerleading squad, which compete at their own end-of-season competition.
“The cheerleading is a big part of it,” SRYF commissioner Joanna Russell said. “And they have their big cheer competition on Nov. 3 at Eureka High school.”
Player numbers, according to Russell, have been declining a little in recent years.
“It’s down a little,” she said. “Football has been steadily losing players because of concussion concerns.”
With 700 kids participating, however, it still remains one of the most popular youth sporting activities in the area.
Arcata does not have a team this year, although Russell says that has more to do with a lack of volunteers and something they hope to have solved before next year.
In the meantime, the Arcata players who still wished to play this year joined either Eureka or McKinleyville.