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Honkers plow through Eagles for 1st playoff win since 2019

Nov 05, 2022 12:00AM ● By Story and photos by Steven Bryla

Yuba City senior quarterback Nick Afato rushes down the right sideline during a 48-6 victory at Vista del Lago on Friday, November 4 in Folsom.

Honkers plow through Eagles for 1st playoff win since 2019 [5 Images] Click Any Image To Expand

FOLSOM, CA (MPG) – The Yuba City Honkers varsity football team shut down the high-flying passing attack of the Vista del Lago Eagles in a 48-6 victory Friday night in the first round of the Division III CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Football Playoffs.

This was the first playoff victory for Yuba City since the 2019 season. Honkers coach Willie Burns told the Territorial Dispatch that he likes being considered an underdog, as Yuba City technically was, due to being the No. 11 seed when they faced off with No. 6 seed Vista del Lago.

“Nobody has seen us at full strength and when they do, we’re a different team,” Burns proclaimed.

Burns added that this was the first time during the season where he could say his roster was healthy all the way around. The Honkers got healthy and rested for three weeks due to their last game being October 14, until Friday.

The 21 days off included two bye weeks along with their game against River Valley which was scheduled to be played October 28, until the Falcons forfeited the remainder of their season.

The Yuba City rushing attack exploded on the Eagles with a total of 387 yards on the ground, which almost doubled the Honkers’ season average of 209 yards per game. Yuba City made a statement early by getting on the scoreboard first as junior running back Anthony Young punched the ball in from three yards out. Young carried the ball 13 times on the night for 71 yards on the ground.

The Honkers defense forced Vista del Lago to turn over the ball on downs on the Eagles first offensive possession of the game. Vista del Lago primarily rushed the ball in the first half and struggled to get any momentum as they only had three offensive possessions in the first 24 minutes of play.

RELATED: Honkers stay in playoff contention with blowout of Broncos

Yuba City extended its lead to 14 when senior lineman Kyrie Cade scored on a six-yard touchdown rush with a little more than four minutes to go in the first half. Cade rushed the ball 12 times for 43 yards and added the team’s final touchdown late in the fourth quarter. The Honkers took the 14-point lead into halftime.

The Eagles’ side of the stadium was silent except for the student section, who was having their own dance party going on in the stands and seemed focused on just having a party. Vista del Lago started the second half with a three-and-out.

Honkers senior quarterback Nick Afato shot through the left side of the hash-mark like a cannon when he scored on a 45-yard touchdown rush. 

“It was a play-action pass and I saw the (defensive backs) really wanted to cover the pass so in my mind I’m going to run it,” Afato told the Dispatch.

Afato had 12 carries for 144 yards and three touchdowns on the night.

Following the extra point, Yuba City successfully recovered an onside kick and started to pull away in the game when Afato added his second rushing touchdown on the night to give the Honkers a 21-point advantage early in the third quarter. Yuba City scored touchdowns on all five of their second half possessions.

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Honkers senior lineman Noah Dunham told the Dispatch that Yuba City was the stronger team on paper.

“We have the backs and the line to run the ball well,” Dunham said.

The defensive performance by Yuba City was impressive by shutting down the deep ball threats the entire game. Burns told the Dispatch that his coaches had a plan to minimize the pass attack of the Eagles and they practiced it religiously through their time off.

With the win, Yuba City will travel back to the Sacramento area and play at the Grant Pacers this Friday night at 7 p.m. There were plenty of Pacers in attendance at Vista del Lago on Friday night.

The Honkers scrimmaged against Grant before the season started. The matchup between these two historic programs will bring entertainment to the Del Paso Heights area on Friday evening.

Burns explained to be successful against No. 3 seed Grant, Yuba City must stay true to themselves.

“We know who we are, and we need to stay true to our identity,” Burns said.