By Ray Hamill — Two of the traditional heavyweights of North Coast football will meet at Albee Stadium on Friday night, with more than just a little pride on the line.
Between them, Eureka and Del Norte have won four of the past five Big 5 titles, and the winner of this weekend’s big showdown will be guaranteed at least a share of this year’s crown.
Each also comes in with some momentum.
The Loggers are a perfect 8-0 and have dominated every opponent this season, while the Warriors are 7-1 and coming off their most impressive performance of the season in a 49-42 win over Fortuna.
“There’s a lot on the table,” Del Norte head coach Lewis Nova said. “The winner coming out of this game is going to have a big leg up in league.”
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Most people expected the Loggers to be in this position heading into week two of the Big 4, and the league favorites have lived up to the billing.
But the Warriors were not expected to be their biggest challengers, especially after falling hard at Fortuna last month.
Nova and his staff, however, had their team ready to go last week, knocking off a good Huskies squad in Crescent City in a statement win.
A different challenge
The Loggers, on the other hand, will present a much bigger challenge, and Nova knows his players will have to play a near perfect game to have any chance.
“They’re pretty stacked team wise,” the Del Norte head coach said of Eureka. “So we’ve got to be prepared from the opening kickoff.
“We’ve got to play like we did last Friday. Play hard, play aggressive. And we’ve got to limit the penalties.”
Like most football games, this clash will be won or lost along the lines, and a stacked Loggers squad has depth and talent all along both lines.
Last week Eureka dominated St. Bernard’s 54-21 to open the Big 4.
More of the same
For Eureka, head coach Jason White will be looking for more of the same from his players.
“For us, it’s the same formula,” he said. “We’ve got to protect the football and execute what we do offensively and defensively.”
On the defensive side of the ball, the Loggers will have to account for the versatile Ethan Price and standout running back Sebastian Puente, who is this week’s Humboldt Sports Athlete of the Week after rushing for four TDs in last week’s win.
“Ethan Price is a great athlete and they move him around a lot,” White said. “We’ve got to find creative ways to defend that. And their running back had a breakout game and obviously presents a challenge with his big-play ability.”
The Loggers will be without one of their chief playmakers with Isley Tulmau sidelined due to an elbow injury.
Tulmau leads team team with 915 all-purpose yards, including a team-high 27 receptions for 417 yards.
The standout senior is not expected to miss more than one game.
The game will also be senior night at Eureka, honoring a deep and very talented class of seniors.