By Kevin Askeland
The Foothill Cougars completed a 12-0 season and captured the first section championship in school history with a 39-21 win over the Pleasant Valley Vikings on Wednesday. The undefeated season will surely go down as the greatest team in Foothill history and ranks among the greatest teams the Northern Section has ever produced. The Cougars scored 420 points while allowing 139. Foothill's closest game was a 35-28 win over Enterprise and it won nine games by 18 or more points. Additionally, eight of Foothill's opponents finished with records of .500 or better.
So where does Foothill rank among the greatest teams in section history? That's up to debate and 10 different people can come up with 10 different lists with 100 different teams, but here's a sampling of the company that the Cougars join (note: in order to be included in list below, team had to finish season undefeated):
Anderson Cubs, 1995 - won the Northern Section 4A championship with a 40-6 win over Oroville in the finals. Scored 398 points on the season and allowed 135. Cubs were led by 1,000-yard rushers Ray Potillor and Craig Koontz along with Northern Section defensive MVP Willie Rahn.
Corning Cardinals, 1997 - went 12-0 while racking up an astounding 548 points and allowing 133. Defeated Oroville 13-0 in the Division 2 finals. Corning was led by All-Section QB Garrett White, who played at Sacramento State, and LB Kameron Merritt, who played at Boise State.
Enterprise Hornets, 1971 - Before the Northern Section had playoffs, the Hornets were the top team under coach Joe Manatowa, going 10-0 and outscoring opponents 39-10. Running Back Dave DeLong was an All-Superior California selection by the Sacramento Bee that year.
Lassen Grizzlies, 2002 - Easily won the Westside League and then knocked off teams from the EAL to win the Division 1 crown. Topped Enterprise 28-7 in the finals. Scored 459 points and gave up 112. Led by Northern Section defensive MVP Ben Baker.
Orland Trojans, 1961 - Named the top team in Northern California by the Sacramento Bee, the Trojans went 9-0 and defeated the No.1 team in Sacramento, Bishop Armstrong, and the eventual state champions of Nevada, Reno High School. QB Bob Miller was a Little Coast All-American in college at Sacramento State while tackle John Schmidt played at Cal-Berkeley, WR Bob Davis played at San Jose State, center Jack Heintz played at Sacramento State and WR Myron Erickson received a scholarship (for basketball) to Cal-Berkeley.
Oroville Tigers, 1953 - Only Nevada Union came close to the Tigers under coach Joe Felipe as the Miners lost 14-7. Oroville outscored its opponents on the average of 42-7 in going 10-0 behind the play of All-NorCal QB Del Whittier.
Shasta Wolves, 1988 - The Wolves were ranked No. 1 in the state in the 2A rankings by Cal-Hi Sports after going 12-0 and outscoring opponents 445-64. Led by All-Superior California QB Jerry Clements and future Fresno State LB Chris Peters.
Sutter Huskies, 2001 - The Huskies simply dominated their opponents, scoring 507 points and allowing just 45. The 2001 Sutter team is the only team in section history to go 12-0, outscore their opponents by 450 points and score over 500 points in a season. Led by Northern Section defensive MVP Ben Turner.
Weed Cougars, 1963 - The Cougars may have come from a small school, but they accomplished some very big things in 1963. In going 9-0 and outscoring opponents 33-6, Weed defeated schools nearly 10 times its own size. Among the victims were Vacaville, 13-0, Eureka, 32-6, and Wooster of Reno, 25-0. Team was ranked No. 1 in Northern California out of all schools, regardless of size, by the Sacramento Bee. Led by Omri Hildreth, who played defensive back at Oregon.
Willows Honkers, 1966 - Went 9-0 during a period when the Honkers won 30 straight games over four seasons. Willows scored 269 points and allowed only 40 with wins of 14-7 over Pleasant Valley, 33-0 over Lassen and 40-0 over Paradise. Led by All-NorCal center Wayne Strohl, who played at Sacramento State.
Sutter goes 12-0 again
The Huskies became the first school in Northern Section history to post four 12-0 seasons in their school history. Corning and Sutter were tied with three apiece until the Huskies earned their fourth 12-0 season this year. Coach Scott Turner moved into sixth place on the Northern Section's all-time coaching list with 156 career wins. He edged John Beck of Chico (153 wins) and sets just seven wins behind fifth-place Don Ray of Quincy (163). Jack Delbar of Winters and Mort Kaer of Weed are tied for third at 169 wins, which could be out of reach for Turner, unless the Huskies manage to go 12-0 again next year and reach a Division 3 CIF bowl game and win. That would be 13-0, which would tie him with Delbar and Kaer. That type of thinking might not be so farfetched, considering that Sutter returns a group of juniors that has gone 32-0 in three years of high school football. The Huskies are also reportedly set to upgrade their schedule next year in hopes of attracting the bowl berth. Stay tuned.
One more item on Turner. He now has a .737 winning percentage (156-55-2) to tie him with Kaer for third best in Northern Section history in that department (for coaches with over 100 games coached).
Hamilton goes 13-0
The Hamilton Braves became just the second team in Northern Section history to post a 13-0 record with their 7-0 win over Live Oak in the Northern Section Division 3 championship game. Fall River went 13-0 in 2004.
The Braves also posted their ninth shutout of the season, which ranks just one below Hayfork for the all-time Northern Section record in that category. The Timberjacks had 10 shutouts in 1987 while winning the Northern Section Class A title. The championship is the second for head coach Mark Cooley, who also guided the Braves to a championship in 2000. Hamilton has reached the championship game four times, winning two and losing twice, both times to East Nicolaus. Cooley is now 73-33 in his coaching career for a .688 winning percentage.
East Nicolaus wins second in a row
The Spartans captured their second straight Northern Section Division 4 championship and their seventh in school history with the 20-7 win over Modoc. Matt Ray's team was also laden with juniors, so don't be surprised if the Spartans are back in the hunt next year. This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Spartans, but Ray got good production from QB Andrew Rubalcava and WR Brian Johnson to get back into the championship game. Only Corning, with 11, Big Valley, with nine, and Hayfork, with eight, have more section championships than the Spartans.
The Ray family also forms an interesting coaching triumvirate. Grandfather Don Ray is one of the winningest coaches in section history with 163 wins while father Jeff Ray has one of the best winning percentages (.709). However son Matt holds all the hardware. While Don and Jeff did not win a section title, Matt has now won two in his three years as head coach of the Spartans.
Fall River wins fourth crown
The Bulldogs picked up their fourth section championship in 10 years and their third in five years with the 14-13 win over Maxwell. The win ended Maxwell's 19-game winning streak, which was the longest current streak in the section. Hamilton now has the longest current streak with 13 in a row.
The Bulldogs could lengthen their 11-game winning streak considerably next year. Quarterback Taylor Sloat is just a sophomore and 1,000-yard rusher Nick Lakey is only a junior, although he will have to rebound from a knee injury. Garrett Barnett, the section's leading scorer, is gone, but a number of other key players, like RB Ryan Stephenson, RB Layn Strickland, and linemen Gary Wilson and Wes Wadsworth return next year.
Here's what we have in the way of junior varsity league champions. Let us know if we are missing any (or incorrect) by e-mailing Kevin@maxpreps.com. Eastern Athletic League - Paradise, Enterprise (tie); Northern Athletic League - Central Valley; Butte View League - Winters; Sacramento Valley League North - ?; Sacramento Valley League South - Portola; Mid-Valley League - Hamilton; North Valley League - ?
Here's the early line on the top teams for next year:
Division 1 - 1. Foothill (until someone beats them), 2. Shasta (lots of young players return), 3. Paradise (can't hold down the Bobcats for too long).
Division 2 - 1. Sutter (junior class is 32-0), 2. West Valley (The Eagles are in the championship game nearly every year), 3. Central Valley (undefeated NAL JV team coming up).
Division 3 - 1. Willows (as many as seven starters on both sides of the line return), 2. Live Oak (The Lions have been in the section finals three straight year), 3. Hamilton (can't see the Braves falling too far despite heavy graduation losses).
Division 4 - 1. East Nicolaus (They were supposed to be rebuilding this year, but won the title anyway), 2. Modoc (Shaun Wood always has a competitive team), 3. Portola (two good classes back to back at Portola).
Division 5 - 1. Fall River (lots of talent returning for an unbeaten team), 2. Maxwell (It will be a rebuilding year, but there is some talent coming back), 3. Hayfork (`Jacks are always in the mix).