By Ray Hamill — Mark you calendars, H-DNL football is almost here again.
The schedule was officially approved by the league Board of Managers on Tuesday, and is set to kick off on March 19.
And what an opening weekend we have in store with some terrific matchups right off the bat, and with no time to waste for any of the nine programs.
“We wanted to make sure we still have rivalry games,” Fortuna head coach Mike Benbow said.
Benbow pieced the schedule together and will field A and B Fortuna teams to round up the number of league teams to 10 so as to avoid any byes in a shortened campaign.
The opening weekend features a pair of all-Big 4 clashes, with Fortuna A heading to Del Norte on Friday, and St. Bernard’s hosting Eureka on Saturday in what will be just the fourth ever matchup between the two crosstown rivals.
Also on opening weekend, Ferndale travels to Arcata on Friday night in a Little 5 rivalry that has been fun to watch in recent years.
Rounding out the opening weekend, McKinleyville plays at South Fork on Friday night, while Hoopa is scheduled to host Fortuna B on Saturday, provided the Warriors are cleared to play in time.
Week two features the Milk Can showdown in Ferndale, between the host Wildcats and Fortuna Huskies, in what is arguably the best rivalry in all local high school sports.
Other matchups to keep an eye on include Fortuna at St. Bernard’s and Eureka at Del Norte, both in week three.
There are a pair of all-Big 4 games in each of weeks one, three and five.
The Arcata Tigers, who switched from the Big 5 to the Little 4 three years ago, will get the opportunity to show they belong with the big schools when they host Del Norte in week two.
The Tigers, however, will not get to play Eureka as had been originally planned this year.
Each team will have three home games, with the exception of Eureka, which is unable to play at Albee Stadium this season and will play all road games.
Rivals McKinleyville and Arcata will face off on the final weekend of the season.
Arcata will host games at McKinleyville, while South Fork switches from eight-man football and rejoins the Little 5 for one season.