After a 13-year absence, the Colusa football team is headed back to the Northern Section CIF championship game, after the No. 2 RedHawks dismantled the visiting No. 3 Durham Trojans 27-9 at home last Friday night.
Ironically, it was a Durham team that Colusa narrowly upset in 2009 to reach the title game, although this time around there was little doubt as the RedHawks outplayed the Trojans on both sides of the ball.
It was the second meeting between the two Sacramento Valley League foes this season, and once again Colusa set the tone early, marching 80 yards to the end zone on its first possession and chewing up nearly nine minutes of clock in the process.
Using a nice mix of the pass and run, a key play on the RedHawks’ drive was a fourth down conversion, in which quarterback Bo Coronado found receiver Luke Kalfsbeek for a five-yard gain that kept the chains moving and put the ball at the Trojan 26-yard line.
From there, Colusa worked the ball down to the four, with Aiden Selover punching it in for the score.
Despite the strong start, Durham answered with nine straight points, including a safety and a touchdown, to open the second quarter and take its only lead of the game at 9-7.
However, while they were the only points the Trojans scored on the night, Colusa wasn’t done, responding on the ensuing drive, when Selover found the end zone for his second touchdown, this time from 11 yards away.
As he’s done all season, Selover ran hard, finishing as the game’s top rusher, gaining 108 yards on 19 carries.
Yet, the turning point in the contest came on the RedHawks’ next possession, when Coronado found Sutter Moss on a short route, and Moss doing the rest, racing 51 yards for the score and extending Colusa’s advantage to 11 points.
Although Durham had a chance to close the gap in the final minutes of the half, an Isaiah Travis sack, his second of the night, extinguished the threat.
After intermission, Colusa put the game out of reach, when after holding the Trojans to a three-and-out, it embarked on a 12-play drive that culminated when Coronado connected with Travis in the end zone.
While Coronado had another commendable performance completing 12 passes for 188 yards, and Travis caught two balls for 36 yards, receiver Landon Humphrey also deserves credit for his role, which included four receptions for 56 yards, two coming on critical third downplays.
Also deserving of commendation is Moss, whose athleticism has been a significant asset to the team, as he ended the game averaging 6.5 yards per carry, while also making three grabs for 61 yards.
Still, the night truly belonged to the RedHawk defense as it shut down the Trojan attack, particularly in the second half.
Hayden McCarty led the effort making a team high nine tackles in addition to picking off a pass, Humphrey also had an interception, while Selover and Niko Silvas each recorded a sack.
It was a performance head coach Mikey Badaluco expressed immense pride in saying, “We had a tough week of practice, but our defense really stepped it up and kept them off the field. They only ran six plays in the third quarter, and I’m really happy about that.”
Overall, it was an impressive outing from the RedHawks, who had lost two straight coming into the match up with Durham.
Nevertheless, Colusa (9-2) needs every bit of confidence and momentum it gained in its win over Durham if it is to hold off No. 5 Pierce and lay claim to the NSCIF crown.
While the RedHawks squared off against the Bears on Wednesday, November 23, the championship game kicked off after the Pioneer Review print deadline. ■