By Ray Hamill — The South Fork Cubs have a number of talented upperclassmen on their roster this season, but with only 14 players on hand they’ll have to avoid injuries as they get set to return to the H-DNL and 11-man football for one season.
Head coach Karl Terrell and his players kicked off practice at the school last week, and with distance learning still in play at South Fork High the numbers have fluctuated.
But Terrell says he has about 14 steady players on his roster, many of whom have been with the program for a few years now.
“Most of these guys understand what I’m doing, but we still have to mold them into a team that can play together,” the head coach said.
The Cubs will feature plenty of experience at the skilled positions and a few reliable returners in the trenches.
Most notably, Alex Harding is back to lead a strong class of seniors in the offensive and defensive backfields, along with fellow senior Sean Hassall-Hoss at quarterback
Senior John Gamble also is back and is expected to anchor both lines with juniors Caleb and Zech Wilkes.
The short preseason and limited preparation with COVID restrictions will affect all nine programs in the H-DNL, which were just cleared to return two weeks ago and will play their first games next week.
“It is a struggle,” said Terrell. “The shortness of time is the biggest thing and molding them into a team. But hopefully by the first game they’ll come together.”
Another senior, Crue Contreras, will give Terrell some added experience and talent at slot back, while freshman Justin Freitas is expected to have an immediate impact alongside Harding in the backfield.
Watch out too for Graham McConnell to play a big role.
Sophomore John Harding is also expected to have a big season after an impressive debut campaign with the Cubs in 2019.
Seniors Alex Harding, Hassall-Hoss, Gamble and Ray Gotcher are listed as the four team captains.
“My line could be okay. It depends on if they stay healthy,” Terrell said. “I think if we stay healthy, with our starting 11 we’ll compete, if I call the right plays.”
The Cubs will play five games, opening at home to McKinleyville a week from Friday.
The Cubs are planning on streaming all of their home games online.
South Fork Games
McKinleyville at South Fork 7:30 p.m.
South Fork at St. Bernard’s 1 p.m.
South Fork at Hoopa 7:30 p.m.
Arcata at South Fork 7:30 p.m.
Fortuna B at South Fork 7 p.m.