By Ray Hamill — The season may seem like a long way off right now, but it’s never too early to talk a little football, especially with little else going on these days sports wise.
And with that in mind, who do you think is going to have a big season in the H-DNL this fall?
Last year, St. Bernard’s and Del Norte clearly stole the show, marching all the way to state bowl games, while Ferndale wasn’t far behind, with the Cats reaching a North Coast Section decider.
This year, no doubt, the H-DNL will continue to showcase its strength beyond the Redwood Curtain, as it has in recent years.
The only question is which teams are ready to carry that mantle.
Here then are four I believe could be ready for a big fall …
1 — The Ferndale Wildcats
The Cats re-established themselves as the dominant Little 4 team once again in 2019, marching through conference undefeated.
The question now is whether they can carry that momentum into 2020?
No doubt Ferndale will miss some key seniors from last year’s team, most notably conference MVPs Landon Gomes and Dominic Regli, but the Cats will return enough key starters to make them relevant again in 2020.
Head coach Clint McClurg and his staff have this program headed in the right direction and that shouldn’t change much this fall.
2 — The Fortuna Huskies
The Huskies endured a rebuilding year of sorts in 2019, but should be among the very best in the H-DNL once again this year.
Head coach Mike Benbow and his staff do an excellent job at always having their players prepared, and that, coupled with the experience a junior-heavy roster gained in 2019, should have Fortuna competing for a Big 4 crown and more in 2020.
Dare I say, the Huskies could be the Big 4 favorites right now.
3 — The South Fork Cubs
Speaking of young teams gaining valuable experience in 2019, watch out for the Cubs to do big things in eight-person football this coming season.
Head coach Karl Terrell and his staff also always have their players prepared and peaking late in the season, and the Cubs have been a force every year at this level since switching four years ago.
Expect South Fork to challenge for a fourth straight league title and more, and expect the talented Alex Harding to dominate as a senior.
4 — The Eureka Loggers
The Loggers suffered a first winless conference campaign in, well, a long, long time last fall. They also suffered an inordinate number of injuries.
Neither are likely to reoccur in 2020.
This year, with both Del Norte and St. Bernard’s having to replace a ton of hugely-influential seniors, expect the Loggers to be right back in the chase for a Big 4 title.
New head coach Andrew Haraldson takes over from Jason White, but the transition should be a smooth one with the rest of the staff returning in tact.
The Loggers will need to replace a handful of key starting seniors from 2019, including some big playmakers, but they will have a junior-heavy roster from 2019 back healthy and peaking in 2020.
They need to unearth some playmakers, but if they do they’ll be tough to stop locally.