By Ray Hamill — These are special times at Eureka High.
In volleyball this fall, the Loggers ended a couple of decades of playing second fiddle to Del Norte and Arcata by winning the Big 5.
While in girls soccer, they are in the midst of a remarkable run of dominance, winning their second straight league title this year, and adding a first-ever North Coast Section championship on Saturday night.
But nowhere is the recent Loggers sporting surge being felt more than on the football field, where a special group of players are on a remarkable roll and making their own piece of history right now.
On Friday night, they made a statement of intent with a thoroughly dominating dismantling of visiting De Anza at Albee Stadium in their NCS opener.
It was as lopsided a game as you’re likely to see in the playoffs this year, or any year for that matter.
A team clearly having fun
The Loggers marched up the field with relative ease, scoring four touchdowns on their opening 15 offensive plays, and racking up an incredible 60 points in the opening half alone.
You could have taken a bathroom break and missed multiple touchdowns. On multiple occasions.
At one stage, the Loggers found the end zone twice in 20 seconds. On another occasion, the two teams combined for three touchdowns within 80 seconds.
It was that sort of game.
It was also a simply brilliant performance from a group of players in their prime, and a group of players focused and clearly loving every minute of it.
There wasn’t a scent of apprehension from a team that came into the playoffs with the heavy expectations you inevitably get when you piece together back-to-back perfect regular seasons.
Rather, they seem to be embracing those expectations, and using them to fuel their ambitions.
In other words, this is a team that appears to be having a lot of fun.
Completely in sync
So too do the fans.
After all, this isn’t the sort of team that comes along every year.
It truly is a special group, not just in regard to their obvious depth of talent, but in how they approach the game and how they play the game.
They’re not just good. They play well together.
And a team in its prime and completely in sync is a tough one to stop.
The coaches deserve a lot of credit for that. Offensive coordinator Garett Montana has his players firing on all cylinders, while veteran quarterback Cruz Montana orchestrates the unit with precision and is playing consistently smart football.
That all starts with preparation, kids.
A special talent
It helps that he has a line as dominating as any Eureka has seen in some time (or even longer than that?), more weapons than a small army, and a defense that gives him 10 possessions in a half.
Like this team, Montana is also a special talent, and the sort of player that doesn’t come along every year.
Watching this guy scramble sometimes is worth the admission price alone.
Defensively, middle linebacker Tyce Mullins is the same, a once in a generation player, playing alongside a group of very talented teammates, each helping the other reach their potential.
Mullins doesn’t have to worry too much about any of his teammates not doing their job, and that allows him to thrive.
And all of that makes this a highly-entertaining team to watch.
Now, I’m not going to tell you they’re as good as the legendary 1929 Loggers squad that defeated Vallejo 9-7 in overtime to bring home the school’s first-ever NCS crown in football, nor better than the more recent 2003 and 2009 NCS championship squads.
But judging by Friday night’s performance they have every chance to win a fourth-ever NCS pennant for the school, and that alone puts them in rarified company.
One play in particular, right at the end of the first half, epitomized why this team can win an NCS crown more than any other.
Casey Sidoti caught a pass in the flat and took to the end zone, with the ball coming lose right as he dove at the goal line, before being recovered in the end zone by teammate Austin Maples, who was not only the closest player at that time, but the most alert.
I’m not sure who scored the touchdown. It doesn’t matter. Eureka scored the touchdown.
This is a group of players who are focused and playing as a unit on every play, apparently even when they’re leading 53-14.
And that, more than anything, makes them dangerous.