High school football notes: Yuba City jumps out to best start since 1998

Published: Wednesday, Sep. 19, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 2C

John Ithurburn was weaned on Yuba City High School football.

As a 7-year-old, he remembers watching Honkers stars Jim Stassi (later the Honkers' highly successful baseball coach), Bob Noreen and Larry Abinante compete in a playoff game in Woodland.

Later, he would track the exploits of his older brothers – until it was his turn to play.

In 1987, as a senior, Ithurburn was an All-Superior California linebacker for arguably the best Honkers team in school history.

Coached by Dave Warmee, Yuba City lost to Tracy 17-16 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship game at Sacramento State.

Now in his sixth season as Yuba City's coach, the 42-year-old Ithurburn has the Honkers off to a 4-0 start – the school's best since 1998 – in beating Davis, River City, Liberty Ranch and, Friday, previously unbeaten Bella Vista.

That win, in which Yuba City led 31-0 after three quarters, moved the Honkers into The Bee's Top 20 at No. 20 for the first time this season.

Yuba City features a veer offense led by senior quarterback Taylor Elkins and senior running back Nate Van Dusen that averages 320 rushing yards per game; a defense coached by John's older brother, Mike, that has produced 13 sacks, seven interceptions and four fumble recoveries; and size and depth, thanks to back-to-back Tri-County Conference junior varsity championship teams.

But Yuba City will be put to the test in the next two games. On Friday, the Honkers play at No. 7 Placer, Cal-Hi's CIF Northern California Division II state bowl leader.

After a bye week, Yuba City travels Oct. 5 to No. 9 Inderkum for the Tri-County Conference opener. Inderkum has won the past five league titles.

Dangerous Blue Devil – It was a disappointing day in the sizzling heat Saturday afternoon for Davis in a 26-21 loss at Rio Americano.

But one Blue Devils player who impressed was senior quarterback Grant Dickerson, despite having two passes intercepted by the Raiders' Zach Suarez.

The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Dickerson, who completed touchdown passes of 88 yards to Kevin Sorenson and 26 yards to C.K. Hicks, scrambled and broke tackles throughout the day against the Raiders' aggressive defense.

Dickerson engineered a final desperation drive, starting at the Blue Devils' 33 with 1:28 to play, that fell short when Sorenson was unable to snag a pass against a couple of Raiders in the end zone on the final play.

Dickerson, who played wide receiver and linebacker last season, tied a school record the week before with five touchdown passes against Armijo.

Davis will try to rebound Friday when it renews its rivalry with host Woodland. Bad blood between players and students at the two schools put the series on hiatus after Davis beat the Wolves 34-23 in 2007.

Flagging interest – Encina's three-game winning streak dating to 2011 ended Saturday night in a 22-12 loss against Elliot Christian of Lodi at El Camino. The teams combined for 338 yards in penalties and eight turnovers as Elliot Christian rallied from a 12-0 halftime deficit.

Centennial performance – Junior running back Matt Razzano picked the right time to have a varsity-best performance, gaining 145 yards and scoring a touchdown in Roseville's 21-7 win over Oakmont. It was the Tigers' homecoming and the school's 100-year anniversary celebration.

Titans tough – For the third week in a row, No. 15 Antelope played a down-to-the-wire game, beating Woodcreek 39-36. Demariee Braziel intercepted a Stephen Nogosek pass late as the Titans moved to 3-1. The teams combined for nearly 900 total yards.

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