By Ray Hamill — Opening weekend for local high school football is just over two weeks away, with plenty of anticipation and intrigue ahead of the new season.
The action gets under way on the weekend of August 22-24, with four of the nine local high schools opening at home and the other five on the road.
Arguably the most anticipated of the opening games will be the Thursday night game between Fortuna and Cardinal Newman at Santa Rosa in a matchup of two of the top programs in the North Coast Section in recent years.
The Huskies are coming off a couple of big seasons and back-to-back NCS championships, while Newman was the top-seeded Division-III team in the NCS in 2018.
The Cardinals won the matchup between these two teams in Fortuna a year ago.
Other notable games on opening weekend include Placer High’s visit to Albee Stadium to take on the Loggers on August 23rd.
The Loggers are coming off back-to-back undefeated regular seasons, but will be forced to replace a stellar senior class from a year ago.
Still, Eureka head coach Jason White has several talented returning players on a team that is a perennial conference contender.
Also opening at home are both South Fork and McKinleyville.
After being starved of home games a year ago, the Panthers will enjoy five of them in 2019, beginning with the visit of St. Vincent de Paul on August 23.
The Cubs are scheduled to host Cornerstone Christian in eight-person football on the same night.
The following afternoon, Ferndale will open at home against Clear Lake.
The longest road trip of the opening weekend belongs to the Arcata Tigers, who will travel all the way to South Tahoe on a team-bonding trip.
St. Bernard’s, Hoopa and Del Norte will each also open on the road.
Hoopa will have a tough opener at Fort Bragg on August 23rd, as will Del Norte at Moreau Catholic.
St. Bernard’s also opens on that Friday night, playing at El Molino, a team the Crusaders comfortably defeated at home to open a year ago.