Chico High faces Eureka High after nearly 30 years

Eureka%27s+Lamarie+Dunn+goes+heads+up+with+a+Chico+defensive+back+in+the+second+half+of+Friday%27s+game.+Photo+credit%3A+Matthew+Ferreira
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Chico High faces Eureka High after nearly 30 years

Eureka's Lamarie Dunn goes heads up with a Chico defensive back in the second half of Friday's game. Photo credit: Matthew Ferreira

Eureka's Lamarie Dunn goes heads up with a Chico defensive back in the second half of Friday's game. Photo credit: Matthew Ferreira

Eureka's Lamarie Dunn goes heads up with a Chico defensive back in the second half of Friday's game. Photo credit: Matthew Ferreira

Eureka's Lamarie Dunn goes heads up with a Chico defensive back in the second half of Friday's game. Photo credit: Matthew Ferreira

Matthew Ferreira

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We’re a little over halfway through the Northern California high school football season, and teams are starting to heat up.

The Chico High Panthers have had a strong season so far, losing only one of their first six games. All due to their explosive offense and a defense that improves every week.

This week’s test was against an unfamiliar foe, the Eureka High Loggers, a team that the Panthers haven’t played since the ’90s.

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The Chico defense lines up for a big fourth down. Photo credit: Matthew Ferreira

The rare match-up took place because Paradise High School’s division change, giving the Loggers the opportunity to fill that void.

Chico High went into Friday’s game riding a two-game win streak, after their back-to-back wins against Lassen and Sacramento high schools, and the Panthers were looking to extend that streak.

While neither team’s offense could get off to an impressive start, the defenses put on an early show, as each team had an interception and the first quarter ended scoreless.

One big reason that the Panthers were able to keep the Loggers off of the scoreboard was due to a huge stop by linebacker Emiliano Reyes.

Eureka was deep in to Chico territory and was looking to set the tone for the game with the first touchdown, but Reyes had different plans.

On a fourth down with one yard to go on their own eight yard line, Reyes timed the snap perfectly. He busted through the Logger’s offensive line, sacking the quarterback and getting the ball back for Chico High’s offensive unit.

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Chico High's defense regroups during a timeout. Photo credit: Matthew Ferreira

The sack was a key moment in the game. A few plays later Panther quarterback Jake Hamman connected with receiver Abe Del Real for a 72 yard touchdown, giving Chico’s offense a much needed momentum boost.

“This whole year Jake and I have been working hard together to develop our timing, and I think tonight it really showed,” Del Real said.

After the initial scoring drive for the Panthers their defense continued to put in solid work. Chico forced a punt during the Logger’s next set of downs and an interception returned for a touchdown by defensive back Willy Baker.

“I just tried to shut out everything else, focus in and do what I do,” Baker said.

The defensive unit, powered by Baker and Reyes, continued to excel. Hamman connected with Del Real once again to put the Panthers up 21-0 at the end of the first half.

Chico High didn’t lose any momentum during the halftime break, as the defense stopped Eureka and regained possession setting up a three yard touchdown from Jalen Johnson that gave them an “insurance” touchdown.

Eureka tried to climb back into the game, but after numerous four and out drives they simply couldn’t put any points up.

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Chico High and Eureka High exchange pleasantries after Friday's game. Photo credit: Matthew Ferreira

Chico’s defense stayed strong throughout the final quarter and the offense scored its final touchdown of the night on a throw to Marco Moretti. The Panther’s finished off the best game against Eureka in over twenty years.

“The key to tonight’s victory was that our defense came prepared and ready to stop them,” Reyes said.

The Panthers will look to extend to a four game winning streak next week when they take on Red Bluff Oct.18.

Matthew Ferreira can be reached at [email protected] or @MattFerreira__ on Twitter.

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