By Ray Hamill — After a month-long break, our weekly athlete and team of the week awards are back, sponsored once again by College of the Redwoods athletics.
And this week, football takes center stage, with five of the local varsity teams kicking off their season over the weekend.
Most notably, the McKinleyville Panthers ushered in a new era for the team with a big shutout victory at Yreka.
And that earns them our Team of the Week honors.
Individually, sophomore Wyatt Simoni had a huge impact for the St. Bernard’s Crusaders, scoring three touchdowns to key a big second-half rally that ultimately fell just short.
And that gets him the nod for this week’s Athlete of the Week award.
ATHLETE OF THE WEEK
St. Bernard’s, Sophomore
Simoni kicked off the new season in style, splitting time at right guard and running back for the Crusaders offense.
The standout sophomore carried the ball nine times for 66 yards, finding the end zone on three of those carries.
For good measure, Simoni also finished with four tackles on defense and was outstanding along the offensive line, rounding out a very good all-around day for the underclassman, who has impressed in camp after working hard in the offseason.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for the Crusaders, who put up 20 unanswered points but missed on a late field goal attempt and fell 21-20.
Simoni and the Crusaders will look to bounce back when they host Arcata this Saturday.
For more on Simoni’s big performance, see Crusaders rally falls just short at Petaluma …
TEAM OF THE WEEK
The Panthers got a new era off to a successful start at Yreka on Friday night, winning 30-0 to give new head coach Fel Barlow his first victory.
Running back Connor Berg ran in for two of his team’s four TDs, while QB Jack Clancy accounted for the other two, running in for one and connecting with receiver Mettah Kuska for one.
Kicker Logan Maher also scored six points, nailing three of four PATs and adding an impressive 47-yard field goal.
The victory ended a 12-game losing streak for the team and was the Panthers’ first shutout since beating South Fork 39-0 in September 2016.
The Panthers will try to keep it going when they travel to play Anderson on Friday night.
For more on the team’s big victory, see Panthers start fast, shut out Yreka in opener …