There were mixed fortunes for the local prep football teams on opening weekend, with some impressive results and some disappointing defeats.
McKinleyville 0, St. Vincent de Paul 18
The McKinleyville Panthers dropped their season opener 18-0 at St. Vincent de Paul on Saturday afternoon, but head coach Keoki Burbank had plenty to be encouraged about nonetheless.
Defensively, the Panthers looked solid, holding the visitors scoreless for the opening three quarters and coming up with several big plays.
Offensively, however, Burbank admits his team still has a lot of work to do.
“There were some first game issues for sure,” Burbank said. “Just mental mistakes, fumbles, penalties, things we’ve got to work on. But I thought defensively we played really well. I felt like it’s a game we could have won.”
Nate Ballew and Kyler Carr each had a fumble recovery for the Panthers, while teammate Caleb Martinez had an interception as the team defense came up with several big plays.
Offensively, Martinez also had a 60-yard TD catch called back for an illegal man downfield penalty.
The game was tied at 0-0 at the time.
Senior Rylin Grow got the start at quarterback for the Panthers, but gave way to junior Jack Patton in the second quarter.
Neither QB was able to really ignite the offense, although Patton, who played for the JVs the past two years and has more starting experience at the position, showed some positive signs.
Defensively, tackle Tom Locatelli had a huge game, causing the home team persistent problems throughout.
“Locatelli had four or five tackles for a loss,” Burbank said. “He had a really great game.”
Burbank is also hoping to welcome a couple of injured players back to his roster this week for added options when they travel to St. Bernard’s next Saturday.
“We have some things to build on,” the coach said. “I definitely would rather be 1-0, but we’ve got to take the positives.”
Arcata 20, St. Helena 26
The Tigers’ inexperience was evident on Saturday when they dropped their season opener at St. Helena.
Head coach Jamal Jones, however, says this will be a good learning experience for his young players.
“These are young guys who have never been in this position before,” the coach said. “But I believe there’s a lot we can take from this game. I really think this will prepare us for the next nine games.”
Early season rustiness plagued the Tigers all night long.
“It was a weird football game,” Jones said. “We just shot ourselves in the foot. Every time we moved the ball, it was a bad snap, It just kept happening all night long.”
One definite bright spot for the Tigers was the play of junior running back Kien Mazzotti.
“He easily had over 100 yards, probably closer to 150,” Jones said of Mazzotti. “He had a hell of a game.”
The Tigers featured seven new starters on defense, and the coach believes all of them will grow into the position.
“When they’ve acclimated, they’ll be fine,” he said.
Arcata returns home to host Del Norte on Friday.
Eureka 41, James Logan 20
The Eureka Loggers took care of business in their season opener Friday night, overcoming a big early season challenge on the road.
Playing in Union City against James Logan High, the largest high school in the North Coast Section (4,000 students), the Loggers came away with an impressive 41-20 win.
“We were physical and we played great defense, and you know, we definitely took our opportunities on offense,” Eureka head coach Jason White said. “It was a typical first game in terms of too many penalties, illegal formations and that sort of thing.”
Most impressive was the defense, which held James Logan scoreless until the second half and came away with five interceptions, including two from Zach Reed.
Offensively for the Loggers, quarterback Cruz Montana completed 12-of-21 passes for 185 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions.
Alex Miller led a strong running game, with 83 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries, and added 61 yards on three catches.
Robert Weir also had a good night, carrying the ball nine times for 51 yards.
“Besides the penalties, which killed some drives, we were very efficient offensively,” White said.
The Loggers return home to host Ukiah next Friday.
Del Norte 40, Ferndale 0
The Del Norte Warriors sent out a statement of intent with a dominating shutout of the visiting Wildcats in Crescent City.
The game was a close affair for much of the first half, but the Warriors came out a different team after the interval, quickly pulling away.
“We made a number of penalties and mistakes in the first half, and at halftime we got on them,” Del Norte head coach Lewis Nova said of his players. “The third quarter they were pretty impressive.”
Ethan Price had a big game for the home team at both quarterback and receiver, as the Warriors switched things up under center.
Junior quarterback OJ Calleja threw for over 100 yards and a pair of touchdowns to compliment Price’s four TDs between QB and wide out.
It’s something the Warriors’ opponents can expect to see more of in 2018.
“That’s the way coach (Kevin) Price has set up the offense,” Nova said of his coordinator. “We’ve got two quarterbacks that are very capable.”
For Ferndale, it was a disappointing start to the season, but head coach Clint McClurg was happy with his team’s effort.
“You’ve got to give credit where credit’s due,” McClurg said. “Del Norte is big and physical and fast, and they were the better team. But on our end, we kept coming back and fighting.”
Senior Kyler Becksted was impressive in the loss.
“He has a motor that won’t quit,” McClurg said of his linebacker. “He played physical and he played fast.”
Along the line, Dominic Regli and Orion Benton each also impressed for the Wildcats.
The Warriors travel to Arcata on Friday, while Ferndale hosts Willits in two weeks.