SPOT­LIGHT GAME: INDERKUM Honkers look to knock off TCC pow­er­house

Marysville Appeal-Democrat - - WORLD / WEATHER - By Andy Ar­ren­quin aar­ren­quin@ap­pealdemo­crat.com

There’s no deny­ing that Yuba City High’s foot­ball team is pick­ing up steam at pre­cisely the right time.

Af­ter suf­fer­ing a tough shutout loss to open the sea­son fol­lowed by a big win over the road in Oak­land, the Honkers had to en­dure a tough twoweek stretch with­out first-year coach Aaron Gingery and the ma­jor­ity of the coach­ing staff, who were out as part of the Yuba City Teach­ers As­so­ci­a­tion strike.

They have come out the other side all the bet­ter, and tonight, a new test awaits as Yuba City wel­comes peren- nial Tri-County Con­fer­ence cham­pion Inderkum to Honker Sta­dium for a key show­down.

The Honkers sit at 3-2 over­all and are com­ing off a 31-0 white­wash­ing of Wood­land in their TCC opener last week in what was their most dom­i­nant per­for­mance of the sea­son.

“Each week we’re show­ing im­prove­ment, and that was our goal,” Gingery said. “Un­for­tu­nately, we had that hic­cup with the strike, but it is what it is. The kids played through that and were able to re­group fast once we’ve got­ten back. I’m en­joy­ing this year and I couldn’t have asked for a bet­ter group.”

Yuba City’s im­prove­ment has a lot to do with the pro­gres­sion of sopho­more quar­ter­back Bryce Rogers, who has come into his own over the last two weeks while lead­ing the Honkers to two straight wins. Rogers has passed for 211 yards and two touch­downs, and rushed for 144 yards and three TDs over that stretch and is con­tin­u­ing to gain a firm grip of Gingery’s spread of­fense that places a lot of re­spon­si­bil­ity on the quar­ter­back.

“I started kind of slow. In the first game, it was a lot faster that what I was ex­pect­ing com­ing up from the fresh­man level, but I’m start­ing to get used to it and start­ing to be smarter with the ball,” Rogers said. “(Gingery) and I have lunch meet­ings that have helped make my game bet­ter so I don’t make the same mis­takes twice, and my team­mates at prac­tice are push­ing me and I have to thank them for that.”

Gingery knew com­ing into the sea­son that there would be some early speed bumps with his young sig­nal caller, but couldn’t he be hap­pier with the strides Rogers made over the first half of the sea­son.

“Any time you start a cou­ple sopho­mores, you’re go­ing to have some hic­cups early on, es­pe­cially at the quar­ter­back po­si­tion, but he’s set­tled in and is play­ing with con­fi­dence and is play­ing very well,” Gingery said. “He also has a strong sup­port­ing class of se­niors, and those se­niors are es­tab­lish­ing them­selves as good foot­ball play­ers. He’s gain­ing con­fi­dence, but at the same time he knows he’s got a way to go. He’s a hum­ble young man on the field, and it’s not go­ing to his head.”

One of those se­nior lead­ers is third-year var­sity starter Bren­n­dan Schafer­Shalowitz, who has rushed for 232 yards over the last two games de­spite sit­ting out the sec­ond half of last week’s blowout.

Gingery also pointed to a strong de­fen­sive unit, led by se­nior in­side lineback­ers Saul Saave­dra and Is­rael Do­rantes, se­nior de­fen­sive ends Thomas Stevens and Car­son Ramos, and ju­nior out­side linebacker David Gon­za­les, as hav­ing played well all sea­son long.

While the Honkers are fly­ing high, get­ting a win tonight won’t be an easy chore.

Since the TCC’s in­cep­tion in the fall of 2006, Inderkum has posted a record of 51-2 within the con­fer­ence, claim­ing the ti­tle in eight of those 10 sea­sons.

The Tigers’ lone losses over that span came to Pi­o­neer in 2006 and Yuba City in 2012, the two years in which they didn’t take home the TCC crown.

The only thing that has eluded Inderkum has been post­sea­son suc­cess, as the Tigers are still look­ing for their first Sac-Joaquin Sec­tion ti­tle un­der long­time coach Terry Stark de­spite mak­ing three cham­pi­onship game ap­pear­ances.

Inderkum (2-2) is ranked No. 17 in the Sacra­mento Bee’s Top 20 and is com­ing off a 51-0 de­mo­li­tion of Pi­o­neer in its TCC opener last week. The Tigers’ two losses came against two of the top teams in the sec­tion in a 276 loss to Elk Grove on Aug. 26 and a 54-19 loss to Amer­i­can Canyon on Sept. 9.

Once again, the Tigers aren’t short on tal­ent, and will be led by a pair of prized Di­vi­sion-I re­cruits in tight end/de­fen­sive end Josh Falo and quar­ter­back/safety Tra­jon Cot­ton.

Falo, a 6-foot-5, 235pounder, has of­fers on the ta­ble from na­tional pow­ers Alabama, Michi­gan and Ohio State along with nearly ev­ery Pac-12 school. He is the No. 1-rated tight end in the coun­try and the No. 14 over­all player in Cal­i­for­nia, ac­cord­ing to ESPN.com.

Cot­ton has vis­ited Ore­gon and Ne­braska and has of­fers from Cal, UCLA and Colorado, among other top pro­grams as a safety.

“I think we’re go­ing to ad­here to that old Yuba City mantra of just be­ing Yuba tough. We’re go­ing to go straight for­ward and see what can do,” Gingery said. “They ob­vi­ously have very good speed, and good, skilled re­ceivers, and a num­ber of their ath­letes are go­ing to play af­ter high school, but it doesn’t mat­ter. We have to make sure we block an­gles, we’ve got to make sure we’re on our feet and we’ve got to tackle.”

Kirk Bar­ron/ Ap­peal-Demo­crat

Yuba City High quar­ter­back Bryce Rogers leads the Honkers into tonight’s Tri-County Con­fer­ence game with peren­nial power Inderkum at Honker Sta­dium.

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