Atherton makes it back for bowl game |

Atherton makes it back for bowl game

Steve Yingling

A passion for playing football and a desire to succeed helped Shasta College’s David Atherton overcome two major injuries in one season and play in the season-ending Grafitti Bowl earlier this month in Modesto.

Atherton opened the season as a reserve running back after recovering from a torn ACL. However, early in the season he became Shasta’s No. 1 running back. But his season seemingly came to a crushing halt when the Whittell High grad broke his fibula against Sacramento City College.

Doctors who treated Atherton told him his season was over, but they didn’t measure the young man’s heart and desire to compete.

“I didn’t think about my leg. It hurt in the pregame to run on it, but I just ignored it. I was so pumped up that I knew once I got in there I’d be fine,” Atherton said.

In his surprise return agaisnt West Hills, Atherton was limited to three plays, including a 6-yard screen pass.

“Right when I caught it my two biggest linemen were there. It was open and looking like a 40-yarder, but a ‘D’ lineman got me before I even got started,” Atherton said. “The ‘D’ lineman turned out to be the MVP of the game, so that made me feel better.”

In his two other plays, Atherton was employed as a blocking back.

Shasta lost the bowl game 31-21 to finish the season with one of the school’s best records in the past decade at 8-3.

“It was a frustrating loss; a lot of people weren’t happy after the game. But once we got on the bus and started home we realized we had a great season,” Atherton said.

Shasta coach Craig Thompson has said that he’ll try to place Atherton in a NCAA Division II program. Thompson and his staff have made 10 highlight films on Atherton to send out to 10 schools where the head coach has acquaintances.

“It’s a waiting game. A couple of guys on our team have already signed. It’s exciting to see your teammates get signed for a full ride, and I’m hoping the same thing happens to me,” Atherton said. “Either way, I’m excited for next year. I’ve enjoyed the game so much. If it doesn’t happen, I have plenty of memories to look back on.”

Whittell grad Dylan (Gibbs) Thomas played special teams for Shasta in the bowl game. Thomas has decided that the game was his final one with Shasta.

“Going 8-3 up here is pretty big time and the fact that David and I got to play was enough. But there is a lot of politics here and it’s not worth it to me to go through it again,” Thomas said.

Thomas started several games at strong safety, but several injuries knocked him out of the starting lineup.

So instead of harboring any animosity toward the program, Thomas plans to suit up for Mesa Community College in San Diego next fall.

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