The Eel River Double AA Blue Huskies held off the hard charging Del Norte Warriors in the championship game of the Six Rivers Youth Football Conference on Sunday to secure an elusive title for the boys in blue. It is just the second youth football championship for the ERV Huskies in the last decade; a Single A title was won back in 2008.
Eel River started the game off with a bang as they received the opening kickoff and J.B. Lewis returned the ball 45 yards to the opponents' 30 yard line. Needing just four plays to reach pay dirt, Fullback Church Crenshaw powered in a 1-yard touchdown run at the eight minute mark of the opening period.
The Huskies moved ahead slowly and had to convert a fourth and 1-yard play to keep the sticks moving. Just six plays into their drive, quarterback J.B. Lewis broke into the open field on a sweep and eluded all defenders on his way to a 64-yard touchdown. Eel River then booted the PAT kick to make for a 14-0 lead at the 3:44 The Warriors stabilized the game after falling behind early and the two teams exchanged possessions to end the quarter.
The Warriors and the Huskies exchanged quick possessions to start the 2nd period and Eel River found themselves punting back to the Del Norte team. Warrior deep return man Raylee Markussen caught the ball on the run and sprinted 80 yards to a Del Norte touchdown. The PAT kick sailed right down the middle and the Warriors sent message this game was far from over. Eel River responded with a offensive drive that stalled at the Warrior 25-yard line and Del Norte took over.
The 3rd quarter played out with Del Norte possessing the football for 17 plays and the Eel River offense getting just six snaps as the Huskies clung to a six-point lead. Twice the Husky defense came up with stops in the shadow of their end zone, Eel River stopped Del Norte at the Husky 17-yard line on fourth down as the third period came to an end. The Eel River offense was still not what it was early in the game but a good punt and a Del Norte penalty moved the game to the Warriors end of the field. One first down earned was not enough for Del Norte and Eel River stopped a fourth down run as the Warriors neared midfield.
Gaining possession with just 3:39 to play, the Huskies once again found little running room against the Warrior defense. Turning to the pass, Husky quarterback J.B. Lewis found tight end Zac Claus for a 15-yard pass reception. Two plays later, the Huskies faked a sweep right, then Lewis threw back the opposite way to find receiver Travis Lourenzo all alone behind the defense. Lourenzo then ran to the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown and a Lewis pass to Hunter Turner on the PAT conversion gave the Huskies a tidy 21-8 lead. With less than 2.5 minutes to play, Eel River was in good shape.
The ensuing Eel River kickoff was fielded by Del Norte's Richard England Jr. and run all the way back for a 76-yard touchdown, but disbelief turned to joy for Eel River as a penalty brought the ball back to the Warriors 23-yard line. Lightning stuck again as just three plays later Del Norte backup QB Jeremy Bernal threw across the field to Mason Mitchell and he sped 60 yards down the sideline to a touchdown. With just 1:28 to play the score now read, 21-14. A Del Norte on-side kickoff attempt ended up safely in Eel River's Adam Medeiros hands for the possession. Medeiros had played a whale of a game but was hurt earlier and was not 100 percent -- however, his grab just saved the win for the Huskies as Eel River was able to kill the remaining time and celebrate the victory.
There were many heroes for Eel River as linemen Sheaden Sanderson, Zach Carter, Cody Boles and Brendon Harralson anchored down the middle of the Husky defensive line. Linebacker Church Crenshaw led the team in tackles when he wasn't gaining the tough yards on offense. Speedy Mason Fields provided much needed yardage on running plays and J.B. Lewis made it all happen as the signal caller for the team. The Huskies were led by head coach Joe Claus, who made some pretty gutsy calls when the game was on the line and it all worked out for the Eel River Blue Huskies in the end.
Photo by Mark Lourenzo/Beacon
Eel River Husky running back Mason Fields (No. 11) turns the corner on the Del Norte Warrior defense with teammate Church Crenshaw leading the way upfield in the championship game of the Six Rivers Youth Football Conference Sunday.