While the St. Helena football season marches into the playoffs, the Saints took the time on Friday to recognize the ten senior on this year’s team.
Lukas Pakter, Eric Martinez, Randell Mosley, Jack Adkins, Gannon Wilson, DeWayne Schooley, Diesel Chappellet, Ernesto Ortiz, Frank Lenney and Dawson Landis were all honored before the game.
“To know the senior class is to know where they have come from as football players. That really is what I’m most proud of for those kids,” head coach Brandon Farrell said. “It was pretty rough, and it wasn’t rough because of anything they were doing, it’s just they didn’t have a lot of help. They had a lot bad luck, some injuries, and they just were out here kind of wide-eyed. Hopefully this experience will take them and make them believe that they can accomplish a lot of things if they just stick with it, and that’s what I’m most proud of.
“What I’ll remember this group most about is that they just stuck with it and they just kept playing. A lot of them could’ve just quit and not played and I’m proud of them for that.”
Added Lenney: “The last three seasons haven’t been the best three seasons for St. Helena football. On JV, I think we won a total of three or four games those first two seasons, and then last year (on varsity) we were like 4-3 or 3-4 or something like that. Things just didn’t work out for us. But this last year, I’m glad this is my last season, I’m glad I got to finish it out with this group of guys. It’s a great feeling and I hope that we can play here again.”
St. Helena (6-4, 4-3 NCL I) vs. Hoopa Valley (6-4, 4-2 HDL4)
Saturday, 7 p.m.
Bob Patterson Memorial Field
Last week: St. Helena downed Lower Lake 40-30 on Homecoming. Hoopa Valley topped McKinleyville 22-12.
Last meeting: According to MaxPrep’s records, which date back to 2004, St. Helena and Hoopa Valley have never met.
St. Helena as hosts: Saturday will mark the first playoff game St. Helena has hosted since 2014, the same year the Saints made it all the way to CIF NCS Div. 5 Championship game before falling 14-7 to Salesian. St. Helena played its last playoff games on the road in 2015 and 2016.
“It feels good. It feels like we’ve earned it,” said Farrell on Tuesday. “It feels like the kids have earned this opportunity and I think that they are taking advantage of it through the first couple days of practice.”
Saints reinforcements: The Saints roster grew a bit this week. With the varsity calling up around 11 or 12 JV players, the Saints now have 33 on their varsity roster.
“Now we feel like we have a little more depth and competition in practice and I’m really excited about watching that develop,” Farrell said. “I think competition is a great thing for anybody, no matter what stage of the season you’re in.”
Saints rushing attack hitting stride: The Saints rushing attack has been St. Helena’s bread and butter all season on offense. But with consecutive strong showings against Cloverdale (472 yards) and Lower Lake (384 yards) the Saints front line is playing as well as it has all season. But the line will face a steep challenge against Hoopa Valley.
“We just know that if they could put 13 guys in the box, they’d do that,” Farrell said. “So we know that there’s going to be a lot of guys to block at the point of attack but in the last few games, we’ve been able to do a lot of that pretty well.”
Ivan Robledo explodes onto varsity scene: In his first two varsity games, freshman Ivan Robledo has rushed for 386 yards and eight touchdowns. He’s added another potent option in an already dangerous rushing game for the Saints.
“From what it looked like on JV, he ran hard. Now how that he’s produced to the varsity, I don’t think anybody could predict that he’d have eight touchdowns and whatever. But the thing about it is, is that it frees up Cody and a lot of the things that we do, and it balances us a lot more because now we have two running backs to work with, and we’ve still got to find ways to get Luis the ball. We’re almost developing an offense as we go here, which is dangerous, it’s a good thing and a bad thing.”
Hoopa Valley a jack of all trades: Hoopa Valley has hurt opponents with all aspects of its offense this season. Its tandem of quarterbacks have combined for 1,304 yards with 13 touchdowns this season, while six rushers have recorded touchdowns and ran for at least 159 yards this year. Senior Kimit Peters is the standout rusher with team-highs of 90 carries and 518 yards.
On the receiving side, three Warriors have double-digit receptions this year. Senior William Reynolds has 11 catches for 210 yards and two scores, Junior Jasper Hostler has 13 for 337 with three, and Junior Carlos Aguillar leads the pack with 33 catches for 691 yards and seven touchdowns.
“They don’t have a real preference from every game to the give the ball to one particular guy,” Farrell said. “Sometimes, it seems like they were favoring one guys versus the other, then the fullback would show his face a little more in another game, and then they’d pass the ball. They have a couple nice receivers, a couple guys who will challenge us and not just challenge us; we have to worry about them.”