By Ray Hamill — The Arcata Tigers got a big boost ahead of the playoffs with a strong showing from their offense on Friday night, on the way to defeating Ferndale 39-26 at the Redwood Bowl.
The win not only avenges the Tigers’ lone league defeat three weeks ago, but gives them the Little 4 championship outright, which should be good enough to earn them a home game to open the North Coast Section playoffs next week.
“Offensively, we took a step forward,” Arcata head coach Jamal Jones said of his team, which broke the 30-point barrier for the first time all season, but more importantly took care of the ball and avoided the red-zone meltdowns that have plagued them for much of the season.
Kien Mazzotti scored three touchdowns in the win, with Everett Halikas and Kevin Madero each also finding the end zone.
Landon Gomes had a big game for the visitors, scoring three of their four touchdowns, with Gio Magdaleno scoring the other.
“Landon Gomes had a great day,” Jones said. “He’s a baller.
“But when you play defense like we play defense, it’s going to take more than one player to beat us.”
Madero steps up
With the win, the Tigers close out the Little 4 at 5-1 and have now won six of their last seven games after an 0-3 start.
Injuries have been a major problem for the Tigers for much of the season and continued to be on Friday, with Halikas forced out in the first half with a shoulder injury.
Madero took on more of a workload in his absence and didn’t disappoint.
“Madero came in and just gave us a spark,” Jones said.
With the loss, the Cats drop to 3-3 in league play and 4-6 overall.
The NCS playoff field will be announced on Sunday, with both teams likely to be included in the Division-V bracket.
The Tigers are guaranteed a playoff berth, and a home game now seems almost certain.
“For us, it’s huge,” Jones said. “It’s just a testament to all the hard work and their character. This is a bunch of guys who went 0-3 and had to battle injuries and all the naysayers, and this is a testament to their hard work, and as coaches that’s all you can ask for.”