For the first time since the inception of the Northern Section California Interscholastic Federation in 1972, two Plumas County teams will face each other for the Division IV football championship.
The Chester Volcanoes and the Portola Tigers will face off Wednesday, Nov. 21, on Chester’s field at 6 p.m.
The last time Chester played in a section championship was 1983. Portola made it to the championship more recently: in both 2008 and 2009.
The two teams equal one another in several regards. Both have a 10-1 overall record and a 4-1 league record. Both teams utilize their running game more than passing and both teams’ defenses have proved to be nearly impenetrable.
Chester lost to Maxwell earlier in the season, while Portola lost to Chester. When they played last, Nov. 2, the game was very evenly matched. Portola, who played at home, was ahead by a few points with 40 seconds left on the clock when Chester made a touchdown to win the game.
“We still have a bad taste in our mouth,” said Portola’s coach, Steve Heskett. “We thought we had them, and it came down to one play. Hopefully this made us hungrier to return the favor this next game.”
Chester’s coach, Terry Hernandez, expects an uphill battle against Portola. The two teams are clearly the top two in the division.
“There’s no mysteries between the two teams,” said Hernandez. “We know what they’re going to do and they know what we are going to do. It’s just a matter of being mentally sharp and executing.”
Heskett praised Chester’s talent and thinks the Volcanoes will be tough to beat. Chester’s speed is the most concerning aspect of the team for Heskett. Hernandez views its physicality as Portola’s biggest strength.
“They really get after it,” commented Hernandez on Portola’s strength. “I think defensively they are very solid. They are a tough team to score on.”
Both teams’ losses happened while at home. Knowing this, Heskett and the Tigers feel a bit more confident playing in Chester.
“It’s only a little over an hour from Portola, so we aren’t too concerned about playing away from home,” said Heskett. “I think we’ll still have a really good crowd.”
The game’s outcome is impossible to predict. Regardless of who wins, however, there will be one more banner hanging in a Plumas County gym soon enough.