By Ray Hamill — One of the top community college football conferences in the state, and perhaps even in the nation, will be loaded with talent from the H-DNL this fall.
The National NorCal Conference, which features powerhouse programs such as Butte, Shasta and American River, has been a popular destination for Big 4 players in particular in recent years.
And that doesn’t appear to be slowing down.
In fact, three Big 4 Defensive MVPs from the past two seasons alone have taken their talents to the NorCal Conference, including former Eureka star linebacker Tyce Mullins, who red-shirted with Butte in 2019 and now appears ready to stake his place for a starting spot.
He will be joined in the NorCal Conference by two other former Big 4 linebackers, St. Bernard’s Justin Hagler and Del Norte’s Anthony Slayton, who will each be taking their talents to Shasta College after they were named Co-Defensive MVPs in 2019.
Shasta appears to be a particularly popular destination for H-DNL players, with Del Norte’s Eli Larson and Eureka’s Josiah Graham and Antorious Bell each also committing to play for the Knights this coming fall.
Baugh is one of seven of this year’s Del Norte graduates who will continue their football careers at the collegiate level, an impressive number for any program but not surprising from a senior-heavy Warriors team that reached a state championship game this past December.
Of that group, Conner Long, Nick Freeman and Kai Baugh also are all expected to play in the NorCal Conference.
Baugh will join Mullins at Butte, while Long will play at Sierra College and Freeman at College of the Siskiyous.
Other local players who recently have taken their talents to the NorCal Conference include Eureka’s Izaak Gutierrez, who was an all-state selection at center for Butte this past fall before receiving a scholarship to play at the University of New Mexico in 2020.
Eureka’s John Foster and Fortuna’s Sheaden Kadle each also red-shirted with the Roadrunners in 2019.
And the common thread among all of these players is that they come from successful programs in the Big 4, programs that know how to win.
In the past five seasons alone, we’ve seen all four Big 4 teams qualify for the state playoffs, including an impressive four state championship game appearances.
And that success has led to many of these players taking their game to one of the top conferences in the state.