Fortuna coaches, players embrace the challenges ahead

Photos by Ray Hamill/ – Fortuna head coach Mike Benbow and his players will begin practice on Monday.

By Ray Hamill — Bring it on!

That’s the message from the Fortuna Huskies and the rest of the H-DNL, as they get set to face a number of unique challenges this football season.

Ask anyone around the H-DNL and they’re just happy to get the opportunity to play this year after all the uncertainty of the past 12 months.

“How great is it to have football back on the North Coast?” Fortuna head coach Mike Benbow said.

No one will be challenged in the coming weeks more than Benbow and the Huskies, who are proposing to field two teams this year in order to bring the number of H-DNL teams to a round 10 and avoid weekly byes in an already shortened campaign.

“We have to help each other out and I didn’t want to see teams have byes when you only get five games,” Benbow said of the proposal, which he made to a meeting of the league ADs on Wednesday.

The league Board of Managers will meet on Tuesday and is expected to approve the proposed schedule, which is still being finalized but would see a five-week season kick off on March 19.

The Huskies certainly have the numbers to accommodate, with 70 players already signed up.

Benbow says they will practice and prepare each week as one team.

And for Fortuna and Ferndale fans, the good news is the schedule will include the annual Milk Can showdown, the best rivalry game in North Coast sports.

The Fortuna coach also says they are planning on streaming all their games live for fans who may not be allowed to attend.

League commissioner Jack Lakin is still working with local health officials, but it remains in doubt whether any spectators will be allowed to attend games, and almost certain none will be permitted at the scheduled scrimmages in two weeks.

“We want fans, however the main point is the boys are able to play football and we can’t lose sight of that,” Benbow said. “The bottom line is it’s about the kids.”

The Huskies also expect to be among roughly four programs that will field a JV team.

They begin practice on Monday along with most of the H-DNL teams.

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