Players, Coaches Lost Their Homes. Now, a Championship

Meet the inspired players at Paradise High School
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 30, 2019 1:30 PM CST
Players, Coaches Lost Their Homes. Now, a Championship
In this Nov. 15, 2019 file photo, Paradise High School head football coach Rick Prinz, center, celebrates with his team after defeating Live Oak High School in their Northern California Division III playoff game in Paradise, Calif.   (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

A Northern California high school football team will play for a championship Saturday one year after most of the players and coaches lost their homes to a wildfire that nearly destroyed their town, the AP reports. Paradise High School will face Sutter Union High School for the Northern Section Division III championship. The game comes just over a year after the Camp Fire mostly destroyed the town of Paradise, burning down roughly 19,000 buildings and killing 85 people. Most of the people who lived in Paradise have moved away. But many have returned on Friday nights to watch the football team’s remarkable season. "The football team has come to represent all of us," says Paradise Mayor Jody Jones.

"There is not a whole lot that gets emotional about this whole fire," he adds. "But I have to tell you, every time I have to tell someone who is not from Paradise the story of our football team, I start crying." Last year, the school was 8-2 and preparing to host a home playoff game when the wildfire swept through the town. The school survived, but nearly every player and coach on the team lost their homes. The team forfeited the playoff game, ending their season. The team almost didn’t have a 2019 season, but its 22 remaining players were determined to play. For the next nine weeks, Paradise outscored their opponents by a combined score of 427-73. If they win Saturday, they will likely compete for a state title.

(More California wildfires stories.)

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