Carmesin and Christiansen lead the way as Wildcats bounce back

Photos by Ray Hamill/HumboldtSports.com – Ferndale’s DJ Albee finds the end zone for one of his three TD runs on Friday night.

By Ray Hamill — Cole Carmesin came back to haunt his old team on Friday night, running in for three touchdowns to lead the Ferndale Wildcats to a comprehensive 55-12 win at McKinleyville.

Carmesin, the Panthers’ JV quarterback in 2019, transferred to Ferndale this year and has had a big impact with his new team.

On Friday, the running back was one of several Ferndale players to step up their game after last week’s disappointing Milk Can loss to Fortuna, as the Wildcats relished their first game under the Friday night lights.

DJ Albee also found the end zone on three separate occasions, while senior Garrett Christiansen contributed all over the field, including scoring on a TD run.

“McKinleyville played physical and they did a good job taking away our inside runs,” Ferndale head coach Clint McClurg said, adding that “our offense just really adapted and overcame some of the things they were doing to bring some pressure.”

Key to that was the play of Carmesin and Christiansen, who began to find chunks of yardage outside.

“Those two kids really stepped up for us,” McClurg said. “We used Garrett on the fly sweep, which set up multiple things for us.”

Christiansen also had an interception and a long kick return at a crucial time of the game, while Carmesin’s contribution this season has been felt all over the field.

Ferndale’s Colson Renner chases down McKinleyville quarterback Jack Clancy on Friday night.

“We’ve moved him around in multiple positions this year, but that’s Ferndale football,” McClurg said of the junior, who also is the team’s back-up QB and long snapper. “And he does everything we ask.

“His lead blocking on the fly sweep, it was a thing of beauty.”

McKinleyville head coach Keoki Burbank admitted it was difficult seeing his former player come back and play so well, but that he was happy for him.

“He did really well,” Burbank said. “He was always such a hard worker and a great kid. I’m glad to see him having success.”

Lane Branstetter, who is enjoying a phenomenal season for the Wildcats, was limited on offense because of an injury but still managed to find the end zone on a TD run, while Colson Renner made seven of his eight PATs.

“We had a big emphasis in practice this week to finish drives, offensively and defensively, and I thought we did that,” McClurg said.

Connor Berg and Connor Alto scored McKinleyville’s two TDs.

“It was tough because we did some things good, but we definitely lost in all three facets of the game,” Burbank said of his team’s performance. “We had a hard time making adjustments and we just turned the ball over way too much.”

The Panthers had six turnovers.

Garrett Christiansen carries the ball, with Cole Carmesin (12) leading the way.

There were, however, some bright spots for the young Panthers.

Mettah Kuska, Willie Baumgarten and Alto all contributed at wide receiver.

“Our passing game is getting better,” Burbank said. “We still threw too many picks, but I see growth.”

Lineman Howard Henderson, one of just three seniors on the team, also had a good game, while Berg had some productive runs.

With the win, the Cats improved to 2-1, while the Panthers dropped to 0-3.

In JV action, the Panthers defeated the Cats 28-6.

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