Yucaipa Thunderbirds Football Playoff’s On The Line Tonight

Written by Bob on November 13th, 2009


Photos By BOB OTTO / Writer & Photographer

YUCAIPA, CA – The Rialto Carter Lions and Yucaipa Thunderbirds meet in the final game of Citrus Belt League play tonight at Yucaipa. And for one team, the season will continue, while the other will pack up its gear and call it quits.

Both teams come into tonight’s game tied for fourth in the CBL with 3-3 records. And the game has huge ramifications. The winner will lock up fourth place and earn the league’s fourth seed into the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Playoffs.

A look at the statistics finds the teams nearly even.

Both teams have competent quarterbacks in Yucaipa’s Wyatt Padgett (1,122 yards passing and 10 touchdowns), and Rialto’s Bryan Harper (966 yards and 7 TD’s).

But it’s in the running game that Carter appears to have the advantage. Running back Damian Robinson leads the CBL with 1,259 yards rushing and has scored 15 of the Lions 18 touchdowns.

Yucaipa Head Coach, John Hallenbeck was quoted earlier in the week in the Yucaipa News Mirror by reporter, Harvey M. Kahn that:

“Damian Robinson is the real deal. We’ll try to keep them off the field and limit their possessions,” Hallenbeck said.

(To read Kahn’s game story, click on the link at the end of the story.)

But for that to happen, the Thunderbirds defense has to step it up. They’ve allowed an average of 28 points per game, just slightly ahead of Carter’s 31 points. Last week, the winless (1-6 CBL, 1-9) Rialto Eisenhower Eagles torched Yucaipa for 41 points in a narrow 50-41 win by the Thunderbirds.

Redlands and Redlands East Valley, along with Fontana A.B. Miller – the top three teams in the CBL – all had an easy time with both Carter and Yucaipa. A look at Yucaipa and Carter’s scores against those league rivals, reveals that tonight’s game should be close.

Yucaipa scored a combined 34 points against the big three, while allowing 109. Meanwhile, Carter scored 30 and allowed 108.

Over the past three seasons, Yucaipa has beaten Carter 2-of-3 times: 29-12 last season, and 35-17 in the 2007-’08 campaign. But in 2006-’07 when Carter finished third in the league, they knocked off Yucaipa, 21-13.

Yucaipa will seek its fourth consecutive trip to the coveted playoffs, while Carter will strive to get back to the playoffs after slipping to seventh in the CBL last season.

“We’ll need everybody and their brother this week,” Hallenbeck was quoted as saying. “This is our opportunity to earn the playoffs on the field.”

Game time, 7 p.m. at Yucaipa High School. Half time will feature Yucaipa High Homecoming ceremonies.

To read Harvey Kahn’s game story, “T-Bird Football Team Beats Eisenhower, Plays Carter Tonight,” just click on the following link:Continue To Game Story


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