Five takeaways from opening weekend in H-DNL football


Photos by Ray Hamill/

By Ray Hamill — H-DNL football returned to the North Coast over the weekend, with three games played, two of them close exciting affairs.

In addition to the overtime thriller between Eureka and Arcata, which the Loggers barely edged, Ferndale beat St. Bernard’s in a physical showdown, while the Fortuna Huskies got the season off to a flying start with a big win at McKinleyville.

There were plenty of standout performances and moments from all three games, and all in all it was an entertaining weekend of action.

Here then are five takeaways from the opening round of games …

1 — It’s great to be back!

Fortuna head coach Mike Benbow described it as the best day of his year, and he wasn’t the only one to feel that way.

In all three games, the players on both sides were clearly pumped to be back, something you could see by their reactions on the field and on the sidelines, and particularly after a score.

It’s been a long time coming, and there were times when it didn’t seem likely we would have a season, but it’s great to be back!

2 — Fantastic finish

The overtime thriller between Eureka and Arcata on Saturday night was definitely the game of the weekend, and could be the game of the season.

It took two overtime possessions to separate these two rivals, who only found out they would be playing each other two days before.

(Such is the nature of this COVID season.)

Both offenses looked like they were in mid-season form already, especially along both lines, which is remarkable after such a short preseason.

The Loggers’ celebrations afterwards reminded us just why we love to play and watch the games, and if this any indication of what we’re in store for over the next four weeks, fasten your seat belts.

3 — A great weekend for brothers

In high school sports there’s few things better than playing alongside your brother, in any sport.

Even more special is the rare occasion when two brothers combine for a score, which was the case in two of the three games over the weekend.

On Friday afternoon, Ferndale senior Jenner Christiansen connected with younger brother, sophomore Kannon, on a 16-yard touchdown pass to open the scoring in a tight game at St. Bernard’s.

Not to be outdone, the following day the Bode brothers combined on a touchdown — in overtime — when senior quarterback Hayden handed off to sophomore running back Rogan, who broke two tackles on a 24-yard run to the end zone to tie the game.

A special moment for the Bodes was made even more special moments later when Hayden ran in for the game-winning two-point conversion.

Not only did both sets of brothers combine for a key score over the weekend, but they both also won.

Arcata’s Shane Purcell

McKinleyville’s Jack Clancy

4 — Young quarterbacks impress

The Arcata Tigers and McKinleyville Panthers have found their quarterbacks for the future.

Junior Shane Purcell was outstanding throwing the ball for the Tigers, while Panthers sophomore Jack Clancy showed why he’s so dangerous when running for a 79-yard TD against a very good Fortuna team.

Purcell, who was involved in all four of Arcata’s TDs in regulation, is the more polished of the two young QBs right now, but expect both of these guys to play a major role for their teams moving forward.

“That quarterback was very accurate with his passes,” Eureka head coach Andrew Haraldson said of Purcell after Saturday’s game.

There were only a limited number of spectators allowed attend the games over the weekend, so others found other ways to watch.

5 — Teams were ready to play despite the short preseason

Despite the unique challenges this year, and the short preparation time, most of the teams came ready to play this weekend, and while there were, of course, plenty of mental breakdowns and learning moments, I was pleasantly surprised at the level of football played.

All the head coaches and their staffs deserve a ton of credit for having their players so well prepared, especially considering we didn’t even know we were going to have a season as recently as a few weeks ago.


Leave a Reply