Sutter opens playoffs with dominant 56-7 victory over Orland
With a 9-1 regular season and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs already in the books, Sutter High’s football team ran onto the rain-soaked turf at Wayne Gadberry Field on Friday night eager to begin its march toward history.
Already winners of three straight section championships, the Huskies stood three wins away from claiming their fourth in a row and 12th overall, a milestone that would move Sutter past Corning for the most titles in Northern Section history.
It’s the time of year that their players have been looking forward to since a bitter loss to Oakdale in a CIF Regional Bowl Game last December, and when the opening whistle sounded, there was nothing visiting Orland could do to hold the Huskies back.
Piling up yardage at an alarming rate, Sutter scored touchdowns on each of its first six possessions and coasted from there en rote to a dominant 56-7 victory over the Butte View League rival Trojans in the opening round of the Division III playoffs.
The Huskies moved the ball with ease while racking up 478 yards of total offense in the first half, turning the game into a rout and setting up a date with No. 4-seeded Gridley next week in the section semifinals.
“Our kids know when it’s playoff time and they know when to turn it up. We brought up 16 kids from the freshman and JV team and we literally had our best practices of the year this week,” said Sutter coach Ryan Reynolds. “They know what’s at stake now. They know now they can’t slip up and it’s for real. As coaches, we emphasize improving every week and getting better, and the kids really buy into that and are super serious and focused no matter who we’re playing.”
The Huskies set the tone from the start when fullback Bryce Kunkle broke a tackle at the line and raced 64 yards for a touchdown on the first drive of the game and added a 3-yard scoring run minutes later to stake Sutter to a quick 14-0 lead.
No. 8-seeded Orland (4-7) answered with its only points of the night with a nice drive capped off by a 6-yard TD pass from Emilio Martinez to Ruben Ortega, and looked to get a break when the Huskies fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the Trojans recovered.
Setting up shop at the Sutter 30, Orland moved the ball down to the 12 before the Huskies stopped them on downs. From there, it was all Sutter as the Trojans never moved into scoring range until the game’s final minutes.
“I have to commend our defense. Orland had full momentum but our defense shut them down and we got the ball back and took that momentum away,” Reynolds said. “To me, that was huge. That was a critical part of the game and I’m really proud of our defense for stepping up.”
Following the stop, Sutter marched right down the field and scored on a 23-yard touchdown run by Trever Facey. Tyler Reynolds hooked up with Gavin Brown for a 50-yard TD strike on the following drive, and Drew Simard found the end zone from 6 yards out on the next to put the Huskies comfortably out in front
Facey later took a shovel pass from Reynolds and bolted 55 yards for another touchdown, making it 42-7 at halftime. Sutter nearly scored its seventh straight touchdown, but ran out of time at the 10-yard line to end the half.
“They were definitely clicking and executing. We had a good game plan coming in and a clear idea of what we wanted to do,” Ryan Reynolds said. “From a coaching perspective, it was nice that we were able to go out and execute and maintain control of the game with our offense on the field. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
A running clock was used the entire second half, but the Huskies kept their starters out on the field for one final drive that saw Facey score again with a 7-yard TD run. Sutter’s reserves closed out the scoring when sophomore call-up Corey McIntyre threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to junior Baily Johnson in the fourth quarter.
In all, Sutter had nine offensive possessions and found the end zone on eight of them.
Facey led the way with 118 rushing yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns to go with three catches for 98 yards receiving and another score. Kunkle finished with eight carries for 96 yards and two touchdowns, and Reynolds completed 9 of his 15 passes for 216 yards and two TD passes in the first half.
Brown also hauled in three passes for 88 yards to round out a balanced offensive attack.
“That’s always our goal coming in. We want to be 50-50 as best as we can to stay balanced and keep defenses on their heels,” Ryan Reynolds said. “If you look at our stats, we’re pretty consistent and it’s something we game plan to do. But if we have to run it, we’ll run it. We have some pretty good backs.”
Not to be outdone was Sutter’s starting defense, which allowed only the one touchdown on the short field while limiting the Trojans to 63 yards in the game.
Dante Caracciola forced a fumble while recording two of the Huskies’ five sacks, while Max Gipson had a fumble recovery.
“We’ve been here before and we’re just doing what we’ve done all season. We trust each other and everybody did their assignments,” said senior standout Tyler Gillming, one of the leaders on a defensive unit that started the year with seven new starters. “Each team is different. Last year we may have been bigger, but this year we’re a little bit faster. Our JV team didn’t allow a whole lot of points last year, and the guys who’ve come up are doing a nice job flying around the field.”
Up next for Sutter (10-1) is next week’s showdown against Gridley (9-2), which beat No. 5-seeded Corning 28-7 on Friday night. The two teams met in BVL play on Oct. 13 with the Huskies running away with a 56-14 victory.