By Ray Hamill — The Fortuna Huskies will try to put the disappointment of last weekend’s season opening loss to Cardinal Newman behind them on Friday when they travel to Galt.
In other weekend games involving local teams, on Friday night Eureka hosts Ukiah in the Loggers’ home opener at Albee Stadium, while Del Norte travels to play Arcata at the Redwood Bowl.
On Saturday Hoopa Valley travels to San Francisco to play defending 6-A state champs Galileo, and St. Bernard’s hosts McKinleyville in an intriguing all-local clash.
Ferndale has a bye and South Fork travels to Calistoga on Friday night.
Fortuna (0-1) at Galt (0-0), Friday, 7:30 p.m.
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“We were definitely over our heads against Cardinal Newman, and we knew that going in it was going to be a pretty tough game,” Fortuna head coach Mike Benbow said. “But I like the way our kids responded. They kept playing hard.”
This weekend the Huskies will try to rebound at Galt, against a Warriors team playing its season opener, and a team that was 3-7 a year ago.
Benbow has watched some jamboree film on the Warriors, but admits he has little to go on.
The long-time coach and his players, however, have been focusing instead on what they need to do.
“We just need some consistent play,” he said. “We’re looking for everyone to step up, make plays and do their job.”
The Huskies have plenty of experience on the line and at quarterback, where senior Zac Claus started all 16 games on the way to the state title a year ago.
Senior Joey Pontes and sophomore Levi Nyberg each also showed some flashes running the ball last week.
Defensively, the Huskies won’t face the same challenge on Friday as they did against the Cardinals, but Benbow will be looking for his players to make the necessary plays.
“We’ve got to be better at playing the ball and being a little more aggressive,” the coach said.
Del Norte (1-0) at Arcata (0-1), Friday, 7 p.m.
Two former Big 5 rivals will meet at the Redwood Bowl in Arcata on Friday night, with plenty at stake for both teams.
Del Norte opened the season with an emphatic 40-0 win over Ferndale in Crescent City and look much improved on last year’s 3-7 team.
Most importantly, they look to have matured physically along the line, or at least appear as if they are maturing.
“We’re getting there,” Del Norte head coach Lewis Nova said. “We were pretty young. Now the kids are starting to put on some size, and they’re hitting. That’s what we’re looking for.”
Arcata, meanwhile, comes into the game fresh off a 26-20 loss at St. Helena, a game which the Tigers felt they could have won but for several first-game mistakes from a young lineup.
This week, however, head coach Jamal Jones says his players are coming off a good week of practice and that their attitude is where he wants it to be.
“They’re locked in and focused,” Jones said.
According to the coach, it was an uncharacteristic performance last week with too many mental errors, and that’s something they have been working on correcting in practice.
“I’m looking for the players to step up,” he said. “Last week, there was a lot of uncharacteristic behavior from the players. A lot of dropped balls and botched plays. We need to cut down on the mental errors.”
Del Norte, meanwhile, will have plenty of confidence after last week’s shutout victory, with all-star quarterback/receiver Ethan Price posing a threat on every offensive play.
“They’re the most physical team in the county year in, year out,” Jones said of the Warriors. “They always present a challenge. But we’re ready for it.”
Nova and his players, however, are expecting a battle.
“They’re aggressive up front,” the Del Norte head coach said of Arcata. “They’re going to pound the ball at us. Last year they beat us (18-14), so we’re looking to even things up.”
Hoopa (0-0) at Galileo (0-0), Saturday, 2 p.m.
The Hoopa Valley Warriors will face a tough test right off the bat, opening the season against the defending 6-A state champions in San Francisco.
It will be the season opener for both teams.
The Warriors have been hampered by the smoke from the California wildfires during the preseason, and unable to practice outdoors on many days.
This week they had to travel to Mack High for some practice time on Thursday.
For a season preview of the Warriors, see Big test for Hoopa football in season opener.