By Ray Hamill — With so many North Coast Section football games postponed over the weekend, the local teams are taking full advantage of the extra time afforded them.
The poor air quality caused by the ongoing California wildfires forced the postponement of 18 of the 24 NCS playoff games, and on Tuesday the CIF voted unanimously to push back the NorCal regional and state championship games by one week in order to allow for make-up dates.
Three of the five local teams still involved were able to get their games in and won, with each of the three — Eureka, Del Norte and South Fork — now having to wait an extra week for their next game, and to find out who their next opponent will be.
“It gives us a third bye for the year,” said Eureka head coach Jason White, whose team was also idle two weeks ago after earning a first-round bye.
So too did Del Norte and South Fork, the latter of whom will play for the eight-person NCS championship against either Branson or Tomales next week.
The Loggers, however, won’t be changing anything this week despite the extra time.
“We basically decided we’re gonna practice like it’s a game week,” White said. “We’ll practice from Monday to Thursday. We’ll shorten a little, not a whole lot, because of the daylight, but we’re going to practice like it’s a game week.”
The No. 2 seed Loggers will host either No. 3 Las Lomas or No. 11 Terra Linda in the Division-III semifinals, which will now take place on Thanksgiving weekend.
No definite day or time has yet been set.
Likewise, Del Norte will play its Division-IV semifinal against either Fortuna or Kennedy on that same weekend.
Two other local teams, St. Bernard’s and Fortuna, had their quarterfinal games postponed over the weekend and will now play them this coming Saturday instead.
And that gives each of them additional time to prepare.
“Now we can focus on extra things,” St. Bernard’s head coach Matt Tomlin said.
On Tuesday, the Crusaders spent their entire practice focusing on offense and defense inside the 12, a crucial aspect of the game plan that they rarely get to specifically prepare for in a game week.
Of course, their opponents will also have the extra time to focus on specifics, which should make for an even more intriguing battle, and one that even more so will come down to coaching and preparation.
The No. 5 seed Crusaders will play No. 4 San Marin in Novato on Saturday, in a rematch of last year’s quarterfinal, which St. Bernard’s won.
In the same bracket, No. 6 Fortuna will play No. 3 Kennedy in Richmond on Saturday night.
And that also gives Mike Benbow and his players an extra week to focus more on their game plan and preparation.