Home Local News Orland and Willows High School prepare for 98th Battle of the Axe – Chico Enterprise-Record

Orland and Willows High School prepare for 98th Battle of the Axe – Chico Enterprise-Record

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Orland and Willows High School prepare for 98th Battle of the Axe – Chico Enterprise-Record

The Battle of the Axe, the bowl-type game between Orland and Willows High School, dates back further than almost any Northern Section matchup. The Trojans and Honkers began the Battle of the Ax in 1922, and since then, the game has been canceled just twice.

Friday night Willows (1-2) will host Orland in the 98th Battle of the Axe, beginning at 7 pm in Willows.

Despite a geographically-tight game between the two Glenn County schools filled with an abundance of history, Orland has shown to be the stronger team for the last 12 years. Willows last defeated Orland in 2008, but since then, the Ax has remained on the Trojans’ campus.

Orland High School football’s Angel Bravo holds the Ax following the 40-0 Orland win over Willows at the Battle of the Ax on Sept. 13, 2019, in Orlando, California. (Nick Velazquez/Contributed)

“The kids definitely have more intensity and energy,” said Orland coach Nick Velazquez about practice the week ahead of the game. “It means more than another game, for sure.”

Orland won 5-5 in 2019 and 1-2 in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, but since then has gone 9-3 in 2021 and 3-0 thus far in 2022 — including a 29-13 win against Shasta last week.

Velazquez credits a change in the team’s offense which began in June 2021, when it went to a shotgun/wing offense that centers around a “ground and pound attack.” Velazquez got the offense from coach Tim Murphy at Clayton Valley Charter High School, a high school in the East Bay.

He said the offense works because OHS always seems to have an abundance of running backs. Velazquez also said this year’s team is filled with depth and has 3-4 running backs who can all make plays. He also said both coaches and his quarterback Grant Foster have become more accustomed to the offense, whereas last season, the Trojans were seemingly learning on the fly.

After a 55-0 win in 2021 in Orland, the Trojans will look to retain the Ax once more on the road Friday against a Willows team that is coming off its first win of the season last week against Anderson.

Chico High (1-3) is at home against West Park in its homecoming game in the fifth game of the season. The Panthers will be taking on West Park at 7:30 pm at Panther Stadium in Chico. Chico High won’t play again until Oct. 6, when they host Red Bluff in the Eastern Athletic League opener.

Pleasant Valley (3-1) is on its bye week and will take on Rancho Cotate at 7:30 pm at home on Sept. 30. The Vikings will look to rest from injuries after sustaining injuries to both of its quarterbacks in the last three games.

Other games

Las Plumas (1-2) is coming off its first win of the season against Central Valley when the Thunderbirds scored 54 points en route to a 54-26 win. LP will host undefeated University Prep (4-0) at 7:30 pm Friday. The Thunderbirds will need to stop the Panthers’ running back Ryan Dyab if they have a chance. Dyab has 96 carries for 606 yards and four touchdowns so far.

Oroville (0-3) will be on the road and have a tough test against EAL opponent Enterprise (4-0), which has out-scored its opponents 204-18 in the season thus far. Gametime is scheduled for 7:30 pm in Redding.

Paradise (1-2) is on the road at Pierce (2-2) beginning at 7 pm, as the Bobcats are hoping to bounce back from a loss to Durham last week. Pierce is coming off two straight wins against Williams and Piedmont after opening his season with losses to Orland and Clear Lake.

Gridley (2-1) will look to win its second straight when it hosts West Valley (3-0) at 7:30 pm

Hamilton (2-1) hosts Live Oak at 7:30 pm and will look to get back in the win column following a bye week. The Braves won two straight to open the season but lost 35-0 to Esparto on Sept. 9.

Biggs (1-2) hosts Colusa (4-0) at 7 pm The Wolverines have not played a game since Sept. 2, when they won their first game of the season against Redding Christian.

Follow Justin Couchot on Twitter @JCouchot_Sports and #norcalscores for updates on this week’s game of the week — The Battle of the Ax between Orland High School and Willows.

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