By Ray Hamill — After the emotional high of a wild weekend, it’s back to work for the Eureka Loggers on Monday, as they get set for their CIF regional showdown.
The Loggers qualified for the North Coast Section Division-III championship with a 21-0 win over a previously undefeated Las Lomas at Albee Stadium on Saturday night, and then had to endure a coin flip on Sunday morning to see whether they or Cardinal Newman advances to the regional game.
Now, after winning the coin flip, it’s immediately back to work for the Eureka coaches and players, who have less than six days to prepare for the Bears.
The game will take place Friday night at McKinleyville High, instead of at Albee Stadium, due to the field conditions.
Either way, its about a five-and-half hour (321 miles) trip for the South Bay school, which plays the majority of its games on artificial turf and not grass.
Just how much that can play into the Loggers’ hands remains to be seen.
The Bears are 12-2 on the season and will be riding an emotional high of their own after pulling out a dramatic victory in the Central Coastal Section Open Division I championship on Friday night.
The Bears rallied from 21 points down to clinch a 32-28 victory over top seed Wilcox.
And as with any team still playing at this stage, they present plenty of challenges for Eureka.
Head coach Adhir Ravipati has built a strong program in his four years at Menlo, with an overall record of 37-15 and four consecutive winning campaigns.
Ravipati also has now led the Bears to two section crowns in three years.
And the Eureka players can expect their toughest challenge of the season when the two teams met, especially in the trenches.
“Basically, they are big and they are physical,” Eureka head coach Jason White said of the Bears.
And they have a number of top prospects, including a pair of highly sought after defensive players.
Linebacker Daniel Heimuli (6-2, 220) is reportedly being recruited by both Alabama and Washington, which says plenty on its own, while defensive lineman Noa Ngalu (6-2, 280) has already committed to Washington.
“He’s the real deal,” White said of Ngalu. “He’s an impressive player.”
And it’s not just the seniors.
Sophomore running back Troy Franklin (6-2, 180), who scored the winning TD against Wilcox on an inspirational 17-yard run, is reportedly the state’s top-rated college prospect in the class of 2021.
“These guys are all real good players,” White said. “They’re just big all across the board.”
The Bears also have a sizable roster of 71 players.