By Ray Hamill — When the Ferndale Wildcats defeated close rivals Fortuna for the coveted Milk Can trophy back in September, senior standout and team leader Landon Gomes talked about this group not being done yet.
Gomes was determined to make sure the Wildcats didn’t settle for winning the Milk Can, a sizable achievement on its own, and to remember there was still work to be done.
Nine weeks on, it’s clear the Cats heeded that message.
Including that memorable win, they have now won eight of their last nine games and will go into their NCS Division-7 opener at home to California School for the Deaf as the No. 2 seed and one of the favorites.
And practice ahead of Saturday afternoon’s clash has been going well, according to head coach Clint McClurg.
“I’ve been very pleased with our preparation and mental focus this week,” the coach said.
The Cats have won this season with old school football, grinding away at their opponents behind a physical line, on both sides of the ball.
In addition to Gomes, who has been outstanding offensively and defensively, McClurg has an assortment of running backs and a tough physical line.
And naturally he hopes to use all of that to his advantage against California School for Deaf, which is 7-3 and qualified for the postseason with a big 60-26 win at Hoopa last weekend.
“It goes hand in hand with who we are. We want to control the ball,” the head coach said. “Let’s keep it out of their hands and if we can do that and limit their opportunities, and that comes with not turning the ball over, we’ll be fine.”
The Wildcats will be without DJ Albee who has become an important part of the lineup at both running back and outside linebacker.
“It is what it is,” McClurg said of the injuries. “Everybody’s dealing with it. It’s football.”
A win for Ferndale will set up a second home playoff game against either Willits or El Molino next weekend.
Saturday’s game is set for 1 p.m.