By Ray Hamill — It’s championship time for the Six Rivers Youth Football Conference this weekend, with three title games on tap in their version of Super Bowl Sunday.
And the players are looking forward to the opportunity.
“They’re excited,” Ferndale AAA head coach Jim Cook said. “And it’s especially big when they get to play up there on the turf at the Redwood Bowl where the big guys play. That makes it more exciting for the kids.”
The day will feature three deciders, with the single-A teams getting things started at 9:30 a.m., followed by the AA teams at noon, and the AAA showdown at 2:30 p.m.
Two of the six teams involved will be looking to close out a perfect season with a championship, while another is on the verge of closing out a cinderella season and showing everyone that what really matters is peaking at the right time.
Ferndale, Mack to meet in AAA matchup
In the AAA championship, undefeated Ferndale is the top seed and will play No. 3 McKinleyville, which is coming off a pair of impressive playoff wins, in which they outscored their two opponents a combined 78-6.
“The last couple of weeks, I’ve got to really hand it to the kids,” McKinleyville head coach Brian Corning said. “They’ve got great heart.”
The championship game is rematch of the AA decider two years ago, a game that featured many of the same players and was won by McKinleyville, but Ferndale got the better of the two teams when they met in early September by a score of 27-19.
“We’ve got a lot of speed and a lot of talent,” Cook said. “And I think one of the big things about this team is we’ve got a group of kids and the base core of them are eighth graders who have been playing together for a while and have pretty good team chemistry. They all seem to mesh well.”
The Ferndale eighth-graders, according to the coach, have also shown good leadership this season, while the seventh-graders make up most of the offensive line and have made an immediate impact.
“They’ve got great team chemistry and they work hard, and they show up every day at practice,” Cook said. “It’s a group that has been there, done that.”
Cook also credits his players for making sacrifices for the better of the team, and having to switch positions for the better of the team.
The McKinleyville coach knows his players are in a for a battle.
“Ferndale is always super, super technically sound,” Coring said. “They’re always well coached, and they’re going to come ready to play.”
The McKinleyville players, however, won’t be intimidated, and will be riding a wave of momentum and confidence after their two impressive playoff wins.
“We just have to keep doing what we’ve done and keep doing our job,” the head coach said. “As long as we do our individual job and play as a team and as a family, we’re going to be okay.”
Like Ferndale, the McKinleyville players also have plenty of experience.
“These kids have been here before,” Corning said. “They know what it means to win.”
Del Norte versus Del Norte
In the AA championship, No. 5 seed Del Norte Blue (5-5) will try to complete a remarkable season when they play No. 3 Del Norte Gold (8-1).
The Blue players won just three of eight regular season games, including closing out with four straight losses, but have gotten hot at an opportune time, winning back-to-back playoff games.
Last weekend, the No. 5 seed knocked off the undefeated No. 1 seed, Eureka Junior League, 14-13, to reach the championship.
Del Norte Gold will also play in the single-A championship against Eureka.
The No. 3 Gold players are 8-2 on the season and coming off back-to-back playoff wins.
No. 1 Eureka Junior League is 9-0, having defeated the Crescent City club 46-0 a month ago, and is looking to close out a perfect season.