On Friday night, playing their first home game of the year, the Huskies comfortably rolled to a 43-13 win over St. Bernard’s to go to 3-0.
They dominated the young Crusaders in every aspect of the game, pulling away with 37 unanswered points after the visitors led 7-6 early.
“I think it was an all-around team win,” Fortuna head coach Mike Benbow said. “All facets played really well and we were able to weather the storm and stick with the plan, and we made plays when we had to.”
Particularly senior receiver/DB Branson Gans, who is playing at an MVP level and finished with 119 yards receiving on eight catches.
“They’re everything as advertised,” St. Bernard’s head coach Matt Tomlin said of the high-flying Huskies. “In my opinion, Branson Gans is probably the best player in the county, whether that’s on offense or defense.”
He wasn’t the only Fortuna player to have a big impact in the win.
Quarterback Max Hough completed 10-of-12 passes for 176 yards, while running back Levi Nyberg ran for 124 yards and three TDs on 17 carries.
Nyberg now has five touchdowns on the season.
All three standout seniors got plenty of help from a dominating Fortuna offensive line of Keith Chittenden, Tobias Bruckner, Joey Quen, Weylon McNight and Peyton Klinetobe, who controlled the tempo of the game all night long.
“Hough reminds me of Zac Claus,” Tomlin said, referring to the former Fortuna star from a few years back. “He makes plays. He gets the ball to the right guys.
“And Chittenden, he was dominant. He was knocking guys all over the field.”
The Huskies started fast, scoring on their opening possession when Nyberg ran in from 40 yards out, but the Crusaders answered quickly and led 7-6 at the end of the opening quarter after senior quarterback Bode Joyner completed a 27-yard TD pass to sophomore receiver Owen Shanahan.
The second quarter, however, belonged to the Huskies, who added three TDs before halftime to quickly take control of the game.
Nyberg scored his second TD on a two-yard run, before Micaiah Montalbin scored on a six-yard run and Hough combined with receiver Connor Pratt on a 46-yard TD pass.
“He’s a good trigger man,” Benbow said of Hough, who is enjoying an outstanding senior season. “It’s his time right now, and all the seniors.”
Of Gans, Benbow said “he’s playing at a different level.”
After Nyberg added a third TD in the third quarter, Pratt pulled in an interception to set up a seven-yard Logan Miranda TD run to close out the scoring for the home team.
St. Bernard’s sophomore Brayden Luna scored on a 16-yard reception from Joyner for his team’s second TD of the game.
It was both Shanahan’s and Luna’s first-ever varsity TD catch.
“Our kids played with 100 percent effort,” Tomlin said. “They gave it everything they had and that’s how I judge a team, by effort.
“Our two sophomores at wide receiver each caught their first touchdown catches. They’re both young kids only in their second year of playing football, and both stepped up and made plays.”
An injury at practice this week to Demetrius Rawson, who is arguably the team’s best player this year, didn’t help matters for the young Crusaders.
However, freshman Wyatt Simoni did a good job filling in for him at defensive end, while sophomore corner Tyler Dimmick made some big tackles in the defensive backfield.
“St. Bernard’s did a good job,” Benbow said. “They fought to the end. They’re a young team that’s going to keep getting better.”
The Crusaders are now 1-2.
Next week, the Huskies play at Del Norte and the Crusaders host Eureka.