By Ray Hamill — The Fortuna Huskies turned in a dominating performance on the way to comfortably retaining the Milk Can for another year on Saturday afternoon, coming away from Ferndale with a 47-13 win.
It was the third straight victory for the Huskies (3-1), who took control of the game early, opening up a four-touchdown lead before the end of the first quarter and ending the game as a competitive spectacle long before halftime.
“We went in with a certain mindset and game plan, and the kids executed it,” Fortuna head coach Mike Benbow said.
For Ferndale, it was a tough loss to take, coming against their close neighbors and rivals.
The Wildcats were out-matched in every facet of the game, and were unable to compete with the physically dominating Fortuna lines.
The visitors scored touchdowns on four of their first five possessions, two of them on the first play of the drive.
Joey Pontes took a 33-yard reception to the house for one of his two TDs on the first snap of the Huskies’ second possession, while Travis Lourenzo ran in from 40 yards out on the first play two drives later.
Overall, the Huskies racked up 366 yards in the opening half, 194 on the ground, setting the tone early along both lines and never relenting.
They led 40-0 at the interval.
Wildcats fired-up early
The setting was a perfect one for football, with a large crowd in attendance for the annual showdown and one of the most anticipated sporting traditions on the North Coast.
And it was the Wildcats who came out the more fired-up, when DB Landon Gomes intercepted a pass from Fortuna QB Zac Claus on the second play of the game, the first player to do so this season.
A quick 24-yard completion from Gomes — at QB this time — to Kyler Becksted on the very next play suggested the Cats were going to make a game of it.
That seemed to wake the Huskies up, however, and by the time the Cats added their second first down of the game, they were trailing by 27.
Loggers dominate Foothill, improve to 4-0 — Eureka turned in a near perfect first-half performance at Albee Stadium on Friday night, on the way to a comprehensive 62-14 win over Foothill.
“The first thing I want to say is proper preparation prevents poor performances,” Ferndale head coach Clint McClurg said. “And we as coaches and players, everybody, need to do a better job in terms of preparation.”
Sophomore Levi Nyberg got the first touchdown for the Huskies less than three minutes into the game, when he broke free for a 44-yard scoring run.
The Fortuna running backs enjoyed fantastic blocking form a dominating line, led as always by senior Sheaden Kadle, who also had a fumble recovery on the defensive side of the ball.
After Pontes’ reception made it 14-0, Adam Medeiros capped a seven-play drive with an 11-yard TD run to give his team a three-touchdown lead, before Lourenzo’s 40-yard scoring scamper stretched the advantage to 27 points late in the first quarter.
Pontes added his second touchdown of the day on a 25-yard run in the second quarter, set up by a Branson Gans interception, before Bryce Sancho closed out the first-half scoring on a 21-yard scoring pass from Claus.
Pontes finished with 76 yards offense, to go with the two TDs, while Gans led the receivers with 61 yards on three catches.
Sancho also had three catches for 31 yards.
Claus completed 10-of-13 passes for 172 yards, the two TDs and the one interception.
Deaden Taylor closed out the scoring for the Huskies with a second-half kick return for a TD.
“It was a team win,” Benbow said. “Everyone was doing their job. It was a great team victory.”
Benbow was also happy with the performances from some of his younger players, who got see a lot of action in the second half.
Gomes shines again in loss
For Ferndale, the overall performance was a disappointing one, but not without its highlights.
Most notably, the play of Gomes, who continues to lead the way on both sides of the ball.
“You want to talk about that fighting spirit, and wanting to win, and playing in the moment, and not focusing on the scoreboard, that’s Landon Gomes,” McClurg said. “In terms of a leader, he just continues to grow. And he’s one of those fiery guys. He’s quite a playmaker out there.”
Gomes threw a second-half touchdown to Wyatt Hendrickson for one of the Cats’ two scores, with Cody Collins adding the second on a one-yard run.
Injuries have not helped the Cats this season, with some players having to switch positions, including Collins who just recently moved to the backfield after starting the season at tackle.
Collins showed some promise at the position, as did Haven Harrington at tackle, having recently switched from guard.
Dominic Regli, Orion Benton and Becksted each also played well.
“We were playing a very good Fortuna team and we could have easily folded, but we didn’t,” McClurg said. “We showed a fighting spirit.”
Next up, Ferndale travels to play St. Bernard’s (4-0), while Fortuna has a tricky challenge at Tracy (2-2).