Paradise stays undefeated in more than one way


Lukas Hartley running for eventual touchdown. Photo credit: Wesley Harris

A year ago, the Camp Fire changed everything for Paradise residents.

After the fire displaced the majority of the town’s residents and burned down many of its homes and businesses, the Paradise High School Football team reached out to help in healing the community and sharing hope for the future.

Paradise has always been a football town, showing love and support for the team year in and year out, but this year the team is doing that for the town as well.

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Hundreds in attendance to see Paradise High remain undefeated. Photo credit: Wesley Harris

The Bobcats have been on a roll since the season began. Their high scoring offense, skilled defense and overall will to win has helped the team defeat every opponent and fill the seats with cheering fans each week.

“At the games everything feels normal, like nothing happened, like before the fire,” Xavier Uribe, a Paradise High School graduate said.

The Bobcats have played an integral role in the healing process. Another step in that process happened Friday, when the team played their final regular season home game with something special on the line.

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Spencer Kiefer and Tyler Hooks teaming up for tackle against Enterprise High School player Photo credit: Wesley Harris

Paradise went into Friday’s game against Enterprise High School with an impressive record of 9-0. The Bobcats looked to achieve their second undefeated season in program history and give their community something to be excited about.

They did just that. Paradise ran all over Enterprise, scoring four rushing touchdowns courtesy of Lukas Hartley and Tyler Harrison, who had a pair each.

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Paradise cheerleaders celebrating win near end of game. Photo credit: Wesley Harris

“We just kept on going even though we came out flat but we kept pushing and working hard and didn’t get distracted by the scoreboard or the loud crowd,” Harrison said.

The teams’ defense also put on a show for the home crowd, forcing three turnovers in the first half and another two in the second half. Their stellar play earned them a 48-26 win and their first perfect regular season since 2004.

“It feels good being undefeated but we don’t want to be just 10-0, we want to win a championship,” head coach Rick Prinz said.

The Bobcats will have an opportunity to accomplish this goal at the Northern Section playoffs, scheduled to start in two weeks, where the road to state championships begins.

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Paradise quarterback Danny Bettoncourt reaching out for a stiff arm Photo credit: Wesley Harris

“We know that the playoffs are going to be our hardest test so far, so we’ve got to get going,” Prinz said.

Paradise is no stranger to adversity and regardless of the playoff results, this team and its town have come a long way over the past year.

“When you face something like the fire as a teenager, you’re going to see growth and these guys have matured into some incredible human beings as a result of all this,” assistant coach Andy Hopper said.

There hasn’t been much certainty for Paradise over the past year but one thing is certain, this team and the town remain undefeated both on and off the field.

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