Young Eureka and McKinleyville teams learning as they go

Photos by Ray Hamill/ – The Loggers defense in action against Arcata last weekend.

By Ray Hamill — The Eureka Loggers and McKinleyville Panthers have plenty in common as they get set to face off in football under the Friday night lights this weekend.

Not only do they run similar offenses, but both teams feature young rosters that are showing signs of improvement every day.

“We’re so young, every practice we grow,” McKinleyville head coach Keoki Burbank said. “It’s pretty cool to see.”

Likewise with the Loggers, who also feature a large number of juniors and sophomores on their roster, and are coming off an emotional overtime win over Arcata in their season opener.

“Our kids came with some energy (to practice this week),” Eureka head coach Andrew Haraldson said. “And having that first game under our belts was huge. We were able to talk about specific things. Having been exposed to some things was really, really good for us.

“You can see some light bulbs going off. And like I tell the kids, every rep we want to get better.”

Both the Loggers and Panthers also run a similar type of offense, which has helped each prepare for Friday night’s game.

“They run some wing-T concept stuff and they do a lot of similar things to what we do,” Haraldson said. “And they’ve got a very athletic quarterback. They’ve got some athletes running around, so we’ve got to come ready.”

The McKinleyville Panthers in action against Fortuna last week.

The Panthers are coming off a heavy loss to a very good Fortuna team in last weekend’s opener, but that isn’t deterring a young roster from wanting to get better.

“I thought they played hard,” Burbank said of his players. “They understand. They’re smart kids. They know Fortuna was a buzz saw and they know how young we are. 

“Sometimes you’ve got to pay your dues, but I think this group is willing to pay its dues and  work harder.”

The Panthers will be without injured sophomore starting running back/defensive back Willie Baumgarten for the game, but will welcome back linemen/linebackers Richard McCovey and Dimitri Harris, each of whom missed the opener.

Both returning players are expected to provide a boost .

“We had a good week of practice, getting our conditioning up and trying to take care of our bodies at the same time,” Burbank said.

The Loggers, meanwhile, are relatively healthy after their opener, with just a few bumps and bruises, and everyone is expected to be ready to go on Friday night.

They’re also coming off a productive week of practice after their emotional victory.

“It was awesome,” Haraldson said. “It was really cool to see the joy on their faces after being out for so long.

“They were pumped. They were excited. It was a really good way to get things started.”

The Eureka JVs lost their opener to Del Norte, 21-0, but Haraldson says a very young squad, featuring mostly freshmen, is showing plenty of promise.

“Our JVs are so young because we pulled up a lot of sophomores to varsity,” he said. “They’re coming along and playing tough, and they’re getting great coaching.”

The Eureka JVs will play the McKinleyville JVs before the varsity game on Friday, with kickoff set for 5 p.m.

The varsity game is expected to be streamed live on the Eureka High School Facebook page, as well as through the McKinleyville athletics Facebook page.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

1 reply »

  1. I feel their pain we playing baseball in LL half my team is only 9&10 lots to go over in shirt time. But that’s the fun of it seeing the boys learning🤔⚾️🏈🏀

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