Football

NCS Playoffs — Huskies look to keep impressive streak going

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Photos by Ray Hamill/HumboldtSports.com

(UPDATED on Nov. 9 – game pushed back to Monday)

By Ray Hamill — The Fortuna Huskies will look to continue their impressive postseason record when they travel to Richmond to play Kennedy in the North Coast Section Division-IV playoffs on Monday night.

The game was originally scheduled for Saturday but was pushed back two days due to the poor air quality throughout the section caused by this week’s wild fires.

The Huskies, who are the defending 5-A state champions, are riding a seven-game playoff winning streak and are 12-4 in the postseason dating back to 2013.

They are also making their 12th straight playoff appearance this season.

The No. 6 seed in this year’s bracket, however, will have their hands full against a quality Kennedy team that was expected to be a top-two seed until getting upset on the final weekend of the regular season at Salesian.

The No. 3 Eagles are 8-2 and had a bye last weekend, but did not close out the regular season with a whole lot of momentum, going 2-2 in their final four games and placing third in the Tri County League – Rock, behind El Cerrito and Salesian.

The Eagles will also be hoping to get over the hump in the postseason, having lost at this stage of the playoffs in each of the past two years, despite being the No. 2 seed a year ago.

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Dual threat QB

The Eagles have a legitimate dual threat quarterback in Cameron Young, who has rushed for over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns this season, while passing for 834 yards and 11 TDs.

“They’re gonna have a lot of team speed, and a lot of size,” Fortuna head coach Mike Benbow said. “It’s nothing different than what we’re used to this season.

“Our preseason got us ready for the playoffs, when we met teams like this.”

The Huskies also have some momentum coming into the clash, having comfortably taken care of El Molino in the opening round a week ago by a score of 55-14.

They also have a lot of playoff experience on the roster, many of whom were a part of last season’s memorable six-game postseason run to the state championship.

“Most of my seniors have played a lot of football together,” Benbow said.

Fortuna playmakers

While the Eagles have a dangerous quarterback and plenty of speed, the Huskies possess plenty of playmakers themselves, and a physical line that has more than held its own against Division-IV opponents all season.

Quarterback Zac Claus is enjoying a stellar senior campaign and has now passed for 1,735 yards and 19 touchdowns (with just six interceptions), to go with 295 yards and nine TDs on the ground.

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Joey Pontes also has been a steady senior contributor for the Huskies, and went over the 1,000-yard mark for the season on offense last week.

Pontes now has 760 yards rushing and 314 yards receiving, and 13 total touchdowns.

“We need to slow them down, but their key is they’re going to have to stop us too,” Benbow said.

The Huskies have averaged 51 points a game in five of their past six games, excluding the matchup against the high-powered Eureka defense.

They’re also coming off a productive week of practice.

“It’s been a fantastic week of practice,” Benbow said. “We feel really good about where we are right now.

“We understand what we have to do and we’re ready to go.”

Running backs Levi Nyberg and Jason Besanceney both remain sidelined for the Huskies with injuries, with the latter in line to possibly return next week if Fortuna advances.

Monday’s game will be broadcast live on the Mix 95.1 FM and The Edge 106.7 FM, with the pregame show getting under way at 6:40 p.m.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

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