By Ray Hamill — So who do you think has the more North Coast Section football titles, Ferndale or the rest of the Humboldt-Del Norte League combined?
That’s a tough one, right?
We’ll give you the answer in a few moments, but first let’s take a look at Fortuna’s historic championship win over Moreau Catholic this weekend, and how it stacks up against the rest of the H-DNL from a historic point of view.
It was impressive in a number of ways, and another statement win from a group of players who have now won 10 consecutive playoff games, something no other local team has ever managed.
They had to do it the hard way too, winning three consecutive road games against higher seeds, also something no other local team has ever done on the way to an NCS crown, while also being the lowest local seed (six) to ever win a section title in football.
It was the Huskies’ second straight title, making them one of three local schools to have now repeated as NCS champions, joining Ferndale, which achieved the feat on three separate occasions (1981, 1992 and 1997), and Hoopa Valley (2011).
It was also the H-DNL’s 13th NCS crown dating back to 2000, and Fortuna’s third in that time, tying them with St. Bernard’s and Ferndale as the only three H-DNL teams to win a hat trick of titles in this millennium.
Huskies’ fourth ever title
Saturday’s NCS championship was also the Huskies’ fourth ever in football, moving them one ahead of Eureka, which I’m sure their fans will relish, and into a tie with St. Bernard’s for second all-time among the nine local schools.
Both Fortuna and St. Bernard’s, however, still remain a long way behind Ferndale, which has 13 NCS titles, second only in the section to nationally recognized De La Salle, which has an incredible 33 titles, including 27 straight.
That’s impressive territory for both the Cats and the H-DNL, considering there are 171 schools within the NCS.
Third all time is Cardinal Newman with 12, followed by Marin Catholic with 11.
And the answer is …
Which brings us back to our earlier question, who has more NCS championships, Ferndale or the rest of the H-DNL combined?
The answer is now the rest of the H-DNL – barely.
Fortuna’s title this weekend is the league’s 27th ever, giving the rest of the H-DNL combined one more than Ferndale’s 13.
Of the nine local schools, only three — Arcata, Del Norte and South Fork — have yet to win an NCS crown, while McKinleyville’s lone success came in 1989.
As a league, the H-DNL’s most successful period was between 2000 and 2003, with a combined five championships in four years.
That glory era ended a long barren spell for many of the H-DNL teams, with Ferndale and McKinleyville the only local schools winning in the 80s and 90s.
Cats set the standard
Ferndale’s run of five NCS crowns in seven years between 1991 and 1997 still remains the standard for all local teams.
Interestingly, the Cats of that era are one of the two local teams that came closest to matching Fortuna’s current 10-game playoff winning streak (along with St. Bernard’s of 2015/16, which won eight straight).
According to NCS records, Ferndale qualified for the playoffs six times in those seven years, losing just once in 12 consecutive playoff games, including a run of six straight wins between 1994 and 1997.
The Cats’ five titles in seven years still stands as one of the greatest runs ever in NCS history, behind only De La Salle, of course.
Only two other schools in the entire NCS have enjoyed that sort of dominance over such a short spell, with Miramonte (1997 to 2003) and Campolindo (2011-2017) each also claiming five titles within seven years.
And finally, one more statistic to put it all into perspective.
Fantastic and all as Fortuna’s accomplishment was this weekend, it’s not even the first time this fall that a H-DNL team has repeated as NCS champions, with the McKinleyville girls golf team achieving that remarkable feat a few weeks back.