It was a good night for all three local teams in the North Coast Section playoffs on Friday, with all three posting comfortable wins.
At Albee Stadium, No. 2 seed Eureka cruised to a big 66-20 victory over No 7. De Anza in Division-III action, scoring 60 first-half points in a dominating display.
In Division IV, No. 2 Del Norte overcame a slow start to beat No. 10 Justin-Siena 37-21 in Crescent City, while in the eight-person bracket, No. 2 South Fork advanced to next weekend’s championship game with a 56-22 win over Rincon Valley Christian in Miranda.
For a full report on the Loggers’ big win, see All too easy for Eureka in NCS opener …
Del Norte 37, Justin-Siena 21
The Warriors overcame a slow start to take care of business and advance to a semifinal showdown next weekend against either No. 3 Kennedy or No. 6 Fortuna.
“It was two different halves,” Del Norte head coach Lewis Nova said. “And in the second half we were able to shut down their passing game and put our running game into full speed.”
What was most impressive about the second half was the variety within the running game, something we haven’t always seen from the Warriors.
Ethan Price again led the way with 170 yards on the ground, and Sebastian Puente also had a big game.
But they wren’t alone, with Kobe Mitchell and Chase Blackburn each also contributing big yards in the win.
“Multiple backs and multiple running styles add to the success,” Nova said. “We had a number of different backs play well tonight.
“And the offensive line has been fantastic down the stretch of the season.”
Defensively, the Warriors took a couple of quarters to figure out a dangerous Braves pass attack, but once they had they began to exert control.
“In the second half, we shut them down,” Nova said.
The head coach, however, knows his players can ill-afford another slow start if they are to get past their semifinal opponent.
“We can’t wait until the second half,” he said. “We’ve got to be a first-half team if we want to compete for the section.”
South Fork 56, Rincon Valley Christian 22
The South Fork Cubs figured out some of their defensive problems at an opportune time, shutting down the No. 3 seeds in the second half on the way to a comfortable win.
Offensively, the Cubs were expected to put up some points, and they didn’t disappoint, but defensively they have struggled at times this season and their play on that side of the ball was always going to be a key in the NCS playoffs.
“All in all, we played a lot better,” head coach Karl Terrell said. “And we were able to overcome some stuff.”
The Cubs got big performances as always from their senior standouts, Cody Wyatt and C.J. Van Meter, but it was some of the younger players that made the difference, particularly sophomore defensive ends Jared Sullins and Graham McConnell.
With just 11 players suiting up for the Cubs, Sullins was making his first start in two years with the team, and he took full advantage of the opportunity, finishing with a team-high 14 tackles.
“We needed him tonight, and he did a great job,” Terrell said.
McConnell also came up big, finishing with 10 tackles and recovering a fumble in the end zone for a TD.
Offensively, Van Meter completed 15-of-24 passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing 18 times for 96 yards and a touchdown.
He also had an interception on defense.
Wyatt also had three TDs, rushing for two of them on 15 carries for 108 yards, and pulling in seven catches for 44 yards and another TD.
Sophomore Alex Harding also made a big impact on both sides of the ball, finishing with 81 yards rushing and a TD, to go with 58 yards receiving, while coming up with a pick six on defense .
For good measure, the Cubs also blocked a field goal attempt.
South Fork advances to play either No. 1 Branson or No. 4 Tomales in next weekend’s championship game.