By Ray Hamill — To suggest there is nothing that different about this year’s Fortuna senior class might be paying them the ultimate tribute.
They are what Fortuna football is all about.
They are what it has been all about for several years now, and what it will be about long after they’ve graduated and “gone on to do bigger and better things in life,” according to head coach Mike Benbow.
Of course, this group is unique in its own way, and winning a state championship as juniors a year ago certainly sets them apart from their peers.
But more important than any of that is how they have lived up to the standards of Fortuna football on and off the field, something that has earned them the respect of their head coach.
“One of the things we really try and push is the idea that tradition doesn’t graduate,” Benbow said. “And these guys have done a great job of continuing the tradition set by the players before them.”
But it’s not just what these players have meant to Fortuna football that the head coach will remember about them.
“They’re just really nice kids,” he said. “And just a really good group of young men, and we’re going to miss them when they go on and do awesome things in life.”
Big showdown at Del Norte
The 15 seniors will be hoping to keep their season going for at least one more week when they travel to play Del Norte in the North Coast Section Division-IV semifinal on Saturday night.
The game is one of the most anticipated of the postseason, especially here on the North Coast, and a third showdown between the two programs this season.
Each of the first two games were high-scoring affairs, with 185 points combined over the eight quarters of play, so fans can expect more of the same this time around.
In each of the first two games, the home team has won, and the Huskies will need every ounce of their seniors’ experience this Saturday to pull out a victory in the traditionally tough confines of Crescent City.
Kadle leads talented class
Four of the senior class have been with the team for at least three seasons now, including lineman Sheaden Kadle, who has been a member of the varsity squad since his freshman year.
Kadle, who anchors both lines, has been the team’s most inspirational leader much of the season.
Adam Medeiros, Jason Besanceney and Micah Pronovost each also have been with the team since their sophomore campaigns, and with a 16-game season on the way to a state title a year ago, this group certainly doesn’t lack for experience, which could play a big part on Saturday night.
It arguably played a big part in last weekend’s big win at Kennedy High.
Senior quarterback Zac Claus also brings a ton of experience to the team, and it has shown all year, while Bryce Sancho, Joey Pontes and Travis Lourenzo have all been consistent weapons for the QB, along with Medeiros, and Besanceney.
Along the lines, Iziaah Payne, Cassius Klinetobe, Hunter Ocker, Johnny Lopez, Cory Johnson and Owen Farmer have each also played a big role for the team this season.
And rounding out this impressive senior class is Luis Atilano, a soccer standout doubling as kicker, who has arguably been the most reliable player at his position on the North Coast down the stretch of the season.