SPOTLIGHT GAME: INDERKUM Honkers look to knock off TCC powerhouse
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.”
Yuba City High quarterback Bryce Rogers leads the Honkers into tonight’s Tri-County Conference game with perennial power Inderkum at Honker Stadium.