By Ray Hamill — The Wildcats will need to stay focused for the entire game on Saturday, when they host Willits in the North Coast Section football playoffs.
Ferndale is the No. 2 seed in Division 7 and will welcome No. 3 Willits to Coach Carlson Field, and head coach Clint McClurg has been preparing his players for the challenge.
“In terms of offense, they have a lot of big play ability,” McClurg said of the Wolverines. “At any given time, they can go 90, so that is a big focal point right now.”
The return of three injured/sick players who missed last week will give the Wildcats a big boost heading into the showdown, with DJ Albee, Bryce Bell and Hunter Bell all available again.
“We’re very excited to have DJ back,” McClurg said of the junior running back/linebacker. “We’re very fortunate to get him back, especially playing a team like Willits with big-play ability.”
Likewise with Hunter Bell at center and Bryce Bell on the defensive line in particular.
Last week also saw the return of senior lineman Orion Benton, who is one of the team’s inspirational leaders and had missed most of the season.
Having so many players healthy and available again at such a pivotal time of the season will be a huge benefit for McClurg and his coaches.
So too has been the improved play of quarterback Jenner Christiansen, who continues to show improvement almost on a weekly basis and is coming off his best performance yet for the Cats, accounting for six touchdowns in last weekend’s NCS opener against California School for the Deaf.
Christiansen has been playing smart football, while throwing the ball with better accuracy and using his feet to great effect.
That, combined with a relentless ground game led by Landon Gomes and a stable of talented backs, gives the Cats a balanced attack with few weakness.
Except maybe one.
“Something we still need to do better is we’ve got to take care of the football,” said McClurg, who’s team has had problems in that area. “We’ve yet to play a game with zero turnovers.”
Saturday’s game is set for 1 p.m.