By Ray Hamill — The Ferndale Wildcats (0-1) will be looking to get their season back on track on Saturday afternoon, when they host Willits (0-1) in their season opener.
After a disappointing 40-0 loss at Del Norte to open the season on Aug. 17, the Cats have had two weeks to dwell on that performance, as well as a couple of injuries to deal with.
But head coach Clint McClurg is more than happy with what he’s seen from his players since.
“Losing always sucks, but I think our kids responded the right way,” the head coach said.
Instead of feeling sorry for themselves, or feeling too down about things, McClurg says his players took a more progressive attitude, asking “what are we going to do about it now?”
“We’ve been working on the fundamentals, tackling, blocking, leverage, and they’ve responded,” McClurg said. “I was very pleased with the way they responded.”
Both games are previewed below.
Big-play defense leads the way for Eureka Loggers, as they travel south to play Scotts Valley Friday night, looking to extend their unbeaten start to the 2018 season …
Cats battle injuries
Ferndale lost more than a game in Crescent City two weeks ago, with a couple of key players going down injured, neither of whom will be back in action for some time.
Defensive standout Marcus Wiseman, whom the Cats were expecting big things out of this fall, was limited in the preseason with a knee injury and is now out indefinitely.
Running back Hunter Barnes is also sidelined for between four-to-six weeks, although in his coach’s words, “he’s a pretty resilient young man.”
“From pee wee to the pros, young men get hurt, injuries happen, that’s part of the game,” the head coach said. “The next guy has to step up.”
Senior Ben Wilma is now slated to take on a bigger role at linebacker and along the offensive line, while junior Rex Rolff will pick up some of the slack at running back.
Rolff, according to the coach, has really stepped up in Barnes’ absence, as have both Haven Harrington and the reliable Kyler Becksted.
“He’s another silent leader,” McClurg said of Becksted, a senior. “Always gives max effort.”
Harrington, a junior, has had a good couple of weeks of practice.
“I’m really pleased with his energy, his effort,” McClurg said.
The McKinleyville Panthers get set to play at San Rafael on Friday night after a scheduling switch this week. The Panthers are looking for their first win of the 2018 season …
Expecting a battle
As for the Wolverines, the Cats are expecting a battle.
“They have a couple of good running backs and some size up front, but I think we’ll be prepared for what they do,” McClurg said, adding that his players are focused more on taking care of their job and doing what they need to do.
Another group of players that is coming off a strong couple of weeks of practice is the offensive line.
“I think, across the board, O-line coach Adam Kendall has really got the front five, or six if you include the tight end, really squared away,” the head coach said.
Saturday’s game is scheduled for 2 p.m.
Del Norte (2-0) at Yreka (0-0), Friday, 7:30 p.m.
The Warriors racked up 431 yards on the ground against Arcata a week ago, with senior QB/receiver Ethan Price accounting for 224 of those yards alone, and three TDs.
Price already has seven TDs on the season as the Warriors have outscored their first two opponents 85-12.
A young Warriors team that struggled a year ago has matured this season, and they have been one of the most pleasant surprises locally so far.
This weekend, the Warriors travel for the second straight week, this time taking on a Yreka team playing its season opener.
A win will see Del Norte match its win total from a year ago before the end of August.
The Miners were 4-6 a year ago.
Etna (1-0) at Hoopa Valley (0-1), Friday, 7:30 p.m.
It’s been a tough start to the season in more ways than one for the Hoopa Valley Warriors.
Last week, red-zone turnovers cost them in what was always going to be a tough matchup at defending 6-A state champions Galileo in San Francisco, as they lost 52-6.
The California wildfires have also affected the team’s preparation for the season, forcing the players to practice indoors early in the month.
For the past two weeks, the Warriors have had to travel to McKinleyville just to practice.
This weekend, Hoopa hosts Etna in its home opener.
Despite the lopsided score and timely mistakes, there were several bright spots for the Warriors at Galileo, most notably the play of the offensive line, as Hoopa moved the ball effectively much of the game.
Senior running back Kimit Peters had a good afternoon, gaining 63 yards on seven carries in the opening half alone.
The Lions are 1-0 on the season, defeating Burney 28-0 in their opener a week ago.