PARADISE (CBS13) — Paradise High School football took the field Saturday night in a championship game one year after the devasting Camp Fire ripped through the town and killed 85 people.
Although the team lost the Northern Section Division III championship game Saturday night to Sutter Union 20-7, they have been the fuel to a city that’s lost so much in the past year.
All season long, Paradise played from the heart to energize hope in the crowds — to remind that even after the tragic events that struck the town a year ago, Paradise is forever strong.
“What these kids and all of us went through makes a statement that nothing can stop us,” Paradise resident Robin Justi said.
You didn’t have to go far at this high school football game to hear the pain of losing it all in the Camp Fire.
“What did we lose? What didn’t we lose? House, boats, cars, trailers,” Kim Hurst said.
When the survivors of the fire said had little else to look forward to, they at least had the team.
“They’re the heart of our town that is keeping us beating,” Heidi Madera said.
And fans say this championship game in Yuba City came at the right time, a time when the town is trying to move past the death and destruction.
“We’re here to have victory, we’re not talking about that now,” Maria Bobby said. “We’re talking about them on the field.”
While the city of Paradise builds back slowly, there’s one thing that has never stopped — the hometown team. This year they played to an undefeated season up until Saturday’s game, lifting up so many hometown hearts at just the right time.
And these players are victims too. Many students who lost their homes in the fire didn’t stop playing football.
While displaced, some players drove up to 40 miles a day to football practice. No matter the hurdle, players rose above anything that stood in their way.
They are a team that means so much to so many, no matter the score.
“Everyday is better than yesterday,” Ricky Bobby, Paradise resident said.