By Ray Hamill — It has been an impressive opening two weeks of practice for the Fortuna Huskies, who might just be the team to beat on the North Coast this season, as many had originally suspected.
They’ve certainly impressed long-time head coach Mike Benbow through the early going.
“Their effort and attitude is outstanding,” the head coach said after watching his players in a scrimmage against Eureka on Saturday morning. “I’m super proud of them for coming out and seizing the opportunity. It’s an unbelievable opportunity and they’re happy to have it.”
The season will kick off next weekend after months of uncertainty, with the Huskies and the rest of the H-DNL just recently getting the all-clear to play again.
Fortuna began practice with 70 players, and will field A and B teams for much of the five-week season.
And Benbow will look to a core group of seniors to lead the way when they kick off the campaign at Del Norte next weekend, including Branson Gans, Max Hough, Joe Quen and Levi Nyberg.
“They’re kind of the leaders of our squad,” Benbow said of the four standouts. “They lead by example and they work hard every day.”
Hough will start at quarterback and has some varsity experience at the position after seeing plenty of time there as a junior.
The multi-talented Gans will line up at both receiver and running back, as well as seeing some time at quarterback.
“He does it all,” Benbow said of Gans. “He’s a great all-around athlete.”
Quen, meanwhile, will anchor both lines, while Nyberg will play running back and linebacker and is expected to close out his career with another big season.
“Our whole senior group is working hard,” Benbow said of the class, which numbers 15.
And the long-time head coach is delighted with what his players have shown him in a limited preseason, as they prepare for the most unusual season of their lives.
“They’re getting better and better,” he said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever been more proud of a group.”
All of the Huskies’ home games will be streamed online and broadcast live on MIX 95.1 FM.
Fortuna at Del Norte, 7:30 p.m.
Fortuna at Ferndale, 2 p.m.
St. Bernard’s at Fortuna (Fri), 7:30 p.m.
Fortuna B at Arcata (Sat), 7 p.m.
Fortuna at McKinleyville (Fri), 7:30 p.m.
Eureka at Fortuna B (Sat), 7 p.m.
Eureka at Fortuna (Fri), 7:30 p.m.
Fortuna B at South Fork (Sat), 7 p.m.