PARADISE, Calif. — Like so many other things around the town of Paradise, which just one year ago was destroyed by California’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire, the Paradise High School football team has gone through a rebirth of its own.
“I didn’t know if we would have a school, if I would have a job or what was going to happen with football,” said head coach Rick Prinz.
But as the town rebuilt, Prinz did the same with his program.
Only 22 players total were left after the wildfire. Now, the Bobcats have more than 100 kids playing football at the school.
“There has been nothing like this,” Prinz told KTXL. “The amount of work it took to get here and to have this, and then to see the kids respond has been very rewarding.”
Paradise rolled through their regular season and beat everyone in their way. It was a perfect 10-0 record.
But as of now, they are on the outside looking in at the playoffs, which is hard to comprehend.
“The reason we’re not in right now is because one of the categories is league-finish points and we’re not in a league,” Prinz explained. “We went independent this year, so we have zero in that category.”
The northern section of the California Interscholastic Federation uses a points system to determine playoff seedings rather than a traditional wins and losses formula. Paradise is seeded ninth and only the top eight make the playoffs.
“I don’t like pulling a petty card, you know, but like we’ve gone through everything and we’ve still dominated these teams,” said senior quarterback Daniel Bettencourt. “And I feel like we will do well in the playoffs and I feel like we deserve it.”
The Bobcats do not have any regular-season games left but this Friday most of the northern section still does. Meaning Paradise still has a good chance of making the playoffs if some teams ahead of them lose.
“I’m very confident we’ll be in the playoffs,” Prinz said.
“We’ve come from really nothing and here we are undefeated and we’re just fighting for our lives really,” Bettencourt said.