Del Norte

HIGH SCHOOL YEAR IN REVIEW — Athletes of the Year and other awards

Photos by Ray Hamill/ – Fortuna’s Branson Gans was a first-team all-league selection in three sports this year and is the 2021 Humboldt Sports Male Athlete of the Year.

By Ray Hamill — Rounding out our look back at the high school year in sports here at Humboldt Sports, today we announce our athletes of the year and other awards.

It was a short and hectic sports year, but one that anybody associated with it will remember for a long time for a variety of reasons.

It was also a hugely successful year in the face of the obvious setbacks, with some fantastic competition and games despite the lack of preparation and all the logistical restrictions.

So here then are our end-of-year awards …

Male Athlete of the Year 

Branson Gans 

Fortuna, Senior

Gans was sensational in three sports this year, earning first-team all-league honors in football, baseball and basketball.

There were a number of other standout athletes this year, as always, but none of them had as big an impact on more fronts than Gans.

Female Athlete of the Year

Bella Vigil

Eureka, Senior

Vigil beats out a talented field of local standouts in what was a very unusual year, and what separates her from her peers were her contributions on so many different teams — and in such a short space of time.

Vigil was a rare four-sport star in her senior year, competing in cross country (for the first time), volleyball, track and field and basketball, and making her mark in all four of them within just four months.

She placed 15th overall at the league cross country championships, posting the second best time by a senior; she placed fourth in the high jump at the H-DNL track and field championships; and she received all-league recognition in both volleyball and basketball.

Vigil will play basketball at Butte College next year.

The Eureka girls soccer team celebrate their Team of the Year award at the recent Logger ESPYs.

Team of the Year

Eureka Girls soccer

There were a lot of great teams in the H-DNL this year, but none were as formidable as the Loggers on the soccer field.

The Loggers, who finished up 9-0 and outscored their opponents 47-1, featured a deeper lineup and more talent than any other team on the North Coast in 2021.

Most Impressive Unofficial Champion

South Fork Boys Basketball

The H-DNL did not award championships in most sports this year, but the South Fork Cubs deserve special recognition for going undefeated in the Little 4 in boys basketball.

A 77-61 victory over St. Bernard’s earlier this month saw the Cubs close out 3-0 in conference play, and while they only played their three conference rivals once each, it was a very impressive achievement for the program nonetheless

I’m not sure when was the last time the Cubs went undefeated in the Little 4, but it’s been a while.

An honorable mention here for Hoopa softball, which was undefeated this year and continues to play at a very high level.

Jenner Christiansen

Small Schools Male Athlete of the Year

Jenner Christiansen 

Ferndale, Senior

No local student athlete fought harder for the H-DNL sports year than Christiansen, and few seemed to enjoy it more when they finally got to play.

Christiansen received all-league recognition in football, baseball and basketball and was the standout in a stellar Ferndale senior class this spring.

This was perhaps the most loaded of all categories, with super talented and deep senior classes at South Fork and Ferndale, as well as a couple of outstanding seniors at Hoopa.

Lele Tanuvasa

Small Schools Female Athlete of the Year

Lele Tanuvasa

St. Bernard’s, Sophomore

A legitimate MVP candidate every year in volleyball and basketball, the Crusaders sophomore is coming off another big year in both sports.

She could very well be the best basketball player on the North Coast.

Game of the Year — Eureka 21, Fortuna 20, OT

What a way to end what was a highly entertaining football season that served up an instant classic just about every weekend.

The unofficial championship showdown between two undefeated teams in the final week was an epic battle that went to overtime.

Click here for more on the big showdown

Fortuna girls basketball head coach Scott Betts talks to his players during a game this past season.

Coach of the Year

Scott Betts

Fortuna Girls Basketball

Betts is one of the best high school basketball coaches on the North Coast and has established his program as one of the best.

After almost four decades without a league title, the Huskies have been the top team locally in each of the past two seasons, including an 8-0 record this year that saw them sweep all eight of their H-DNL opponents.

Honorary Coach of Year

James Washington


Now in his fourth different decade directing cross country and track and field at Arcata High, Washington is a local legend and has been an inspiration to countless Tigers athletes over the years.

Assistant Coach of the Year

Garett Montana

Eureka Football

Montana came out of retirement to join head coach Andrew Haraldson’s staff just before the season kicked off and had a huge impact directing the offense on a young roster.

Honorary Assistant Coach of the Year

Dennis Rosser


A special shoutout and thank you to Dennis Rosser, who provides all the local media with all the Fortuna stats in football, softball and boys basketball.

His efforts are greatly appreciated and continually help promote the Huskies student athletes.

Submitted photo – Eureka’s Ginny Brooks, right, was one of several outstanding sophomores in the H-DNL this year.

Female Standout Performance 

Ginny Brooks

Eureka Track and Field, Sophomore

Brooks had a good season in soccer and a sensational one in track and field, where she was the league’s only four-time winner at the H-DNL championships, placing first in the long jump, both hurdles races and as part of the Eureka 4×100 meters relay team.

Just a sophomore, Brooks will only get better next year and beyond.

Male Standout Performance 

Bo Cox

Fortuna Track and Field, Senior

Cox is a talented multi-sport athlete who was the unofficial MVP in boys track and field this year.

At the league championships, the Fortuna senior placed first in the 400m, the pole vault and the triple jump, as well as placing second in the long jump.

Del Norte’s Jadence Clifton is the all-time career scoring leader for the Warriors.

Female Player of the Year

Jadence Clifton

Del Norte Basketball, Senior

Clifton, who will play at Humboldt State next year, capped a brilliant high school career in basketball by setting the all-time scoring record at the school on opening night this past season.

No one player in the H-DNL had a more dominating season in any sport.

Male Player of the Year

Hayden Bode

Eureka Football, Senior

Bode was instrumental in the Loggers’ unbeaten season in multiple ways, and that made him a more integral part of his team than any other player in the H-DNL in any sport this year.

Not only was he outstanding at quarterback and safety (particularly the latter), but his presence and leadership on a young team was crucial in its development.

He’s the sort of player who continually makes his teammates better.

My Favorite Moment

Being named Fan of the Year

A special thank you to the Eureka Loggers and the rest of the H-DNL for presenting yours truly with the Fan of the Year award at the recent Logger ESPYs.

I’m truly honored and sincerely appreciate the award.

Eureka senior Keylei Carroll, right, and Melissa Morrison

Most Inspiring Moment of the Year

Eureka soccer players celebrate mentors with act of kindness

At their final games of the year, the Eureka boys and girls soccer teams honored rival coach Patrick Stranahan (Arcata) and his wife Melissa Morrison, who is battling ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).

In a touching moment after the girls game, representatives of both teams presented the couple with a letter from the players and coaches expressing their gratitude for all the work they have done over the years to help promote soccer in the community.

The teams also raised $2,000 in a single evening to help towards medical expenses.

Click here for more on this story.

1 reply »

  1. Arcata Girls and Boys tennis went 14-0 on the year and swept both HDN-L tourneys 12-0. No mention?

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