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Warriors overcome unique challenge on the way to youth football title

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Submitted photos – The Del Norte AAA players celebrate their championship on Sunday.

It’s been a memorable season for Del Norte football in more ways than one.

The high school team is Big 4 champion and expected to make some serious noise when the NCS playoffs get under way this weekend, while the area’s youth football program claimed a pair of championships at the Redwood Bowl last Sunday.

And the younger Warriors had to knock off a top seed in each game.

Del Norte defeated Ferndale in the AAA game by a score of 14-6, and got the better of Eel River in the single-A championship by a score of 28-12.

Hard work paid off for the AAA Warriors, who had a unique campaign, starting out as two separate teams before merging together after week one.

“It was a challenge bringing all these kids together on the same team and getting them on the same page, and a unique challenge,” head coach Clinton Schaad said. “But that kind of made it more of a special team.”

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Submitted photos – The Eureka AA players celebrate their championship on Sunday.

The Warriors ran the ball hard all year with a number of players contributing behind a strong offensive line that paved the way.

In the championship game, the ground attack kept a dangerous Mustangs offense off the field for long spells, including a drive that ate up almost the entire third quarter.

Defensively, the Warriors were arguably even better, holding their three playoff opponents — two of them higher seeds — to just 12 points combined.

“Our defense was able to hold Ferndale and give our offense a chance,” Schaad said. “Our defense all year long has been really strong.

“This group, they gelled well together. They worked well together. We took two squads and made them into one, and they all worked hard every day at practice.”

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Submitted photos – The Del Norte A players celebrate their championship on Sunday.

With more than half the players just seventh graders, the Warriors should be even stronger next season.

In the AA championship, meanwhile, No. 1 seed Eureka defeated No. 2 Ferndale 38-0 for the title.

The Eureka players closed out their championship season with a record of 9-1.

In single-A, Del Norte was seeded third and got the better of No. 1 Eel River, handing the higher seeds their first loss of the season.

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