Video: Friday Night Lights are back in ParadiseBobcats returned to the field, helping town begin healing.
Butte County towns observed 85 seconds of silence Friday morning in remembrance of the lives lost in Paradise as the community remembered the one-year anniversary of the deadly Camp Fire.
In that year, the town of Paradise has begun the slow process of rebuilding and healing, but the memorial crosses on The Skyway remain a constant reminder of the devastation wrought by the Nov. 8, 2018 blaze.
Part of community's healing has centered around the Paradise (Calif.)
football team, which opened its season on Aug. 23 to a capacity crowd at Om Wraith Field and symbolized a rebirth in the community.
The Bobcats ended the regular season 10-0 with a 48-26 win over Enterprise (Redding) last week and sit idle this Friday awaiting their playoff fate. Sophomore Tyler Harrison
rushed for 1,837 yards and senior Lukas Hartley
added 1,167 on the ground as the Bobcats' Wing-T attack was as potent as it's been under the 20-year reign of coach Rick Prinz.
On Saturday morning, the Bobcats learned they earned a No. 4 seed in the Northern Section Division III playoffs, a seed that leading up to the football committee meeting was in some doubt.
Despite going 10-0 and playing a freelance schedule, Paradise faced a scenario where they could've been the No. 9 team in an eight-team bracket. However, the Bobcats earned enough points under the section's playoff structure to qualify for at least the eight seed, allowing the playoff committee to strip away the league points from the other teams in the section's three-pronged criteria of overall record, league standing and strength of schedule.
Paradise coach Rick Prinz was happy to earn the No. 4 seed and have another home game at Om Wraith Field in front of the Paradise fans. The Bobcats host No. 5 Live Oak on Friday in the opening round.
"It's going to be nice having one more home game and then we have to go out on the road against some tough opponents and great coaches," Prinz said. "Our theme was treating every game like a playoff game. We felt we had to go 10-0, not being in a league. But the committee last May came up with this plan that we really appreciate the section doing that.
"Unless they want to give us 10 points for finishing first in our independent league, that would be OK," Prinz added jokingly.
He said the team passed the first anniversary of the Camp Fire with a team barbecue.
"It was nice to do some of the memorial things," Prinz said. "It seems like yesterday, but it seems so long ago."
Last year, the Camp Fire broke out the week of its playoff opener. Ultimately, the 2018 Bobcats had to cancel their 8-2 season without getting a chance to play in the postseason, leaving more bitterness and emptiness to a tragic situation.
This season, their goal has been clear and emphatic, said assistant coach Andy Hopper.
"We can end this incredible story with a good season, or we can do
everything in our ability and power and complete this season into the
amazing state championship season that it deserves," he said last week. "We can
play for our town, the 85 souls that lost their lives, and the continued
hope and belief that with each other we can conquer all odds."