Plenty of early positives as H-DNL teams scrimmage

Photos by Ray Hamill/ – Drew Sisemore in action for the Crusaders on Saturday.

By Ray Hamill — One key injury and several missing players highlighted a weekend of scrimmages for H-DNL football teams, but overall it was a positive start for most teams.

Eureka, Fortuna and Arcata all scrimmaged each other at Albee Stadium on Friday evening, while McKinleyville traveled to Del Norte, also on Friday, and St. Bernard’s hosted Ukiah on Saturday afternoon.

The Loggers were missing 10 players for the occasion because of COVID protocols, although head coach Andrew Haraldson is hoping to have most of them available for next week’s season opener at home to Foothill.

Despite the missing contingent — which included two all-conference offensive linemen and all of the team’s tight ends — Haraldson was more than happy with what he saw from his players.

“I was really pleased with our guys,” he said. “I thought they finished the plays, worked hard and executed. I thought our kids all played hard.”

The Crusaders, meanwhile, got a scare when starting quarterback Drew Sisemore was sidelined early against Ukiah after suffering a hand injury.

Head coach Matt Tomlin, however, said the injury shouldn’t keep him out of the lineup for long and is hopeful the junior starter will be back in time for next week’s season opener at St. Vincent de Paul in Petaluma.

In Sisemore’s absence, back-up quarterback Seth Brunton was outstanding in leading a potent Crusaders offense that appears substantially improved from the spring.

“He really stood out today with a great performance,” Tomlin said of Brunton, adding that they’re very confident in him if Sisemore is unable to go next week.

Check out some video highlights from the weekend below …

New defensive end Jeran Ford also had an outstanding day for the Crusaders.

The senior transfer, who has never played football before, announced his presence in style with four sacks.

“Wow, he was outstanding today,” Tomlin said of the newcomer.

The Crusaders also fielded a JV team against Ukiah for the first time in four years and it was an impressive return for the young players.

“I was very happy with the way the junior varsity team played, with so many new players,” Tomlin said.

At Albee Stadium on Friday night, local fans got to see an improving Arcata Tigers team that is expected to make some noise this fall.

“It was fun to get out there and compete with other teams,” Arcata head coach Jamal Jones said. “There’s a lot we need to work on offensively and defensively, but the kids had a good effort.”

The Tigers and Loggers scrimmaged along with the Huskies at Albee Stadium on Friday evening.

Big things are expected out of Arcata senior quarterback Shane Purcell and his deep and experienced receiving corps, who collectively looked solid in their first action against other teams.

“The one thing you want to see is, are the kids playing hard and having fun,”Jones said. “And I think they were.”

The Fortuna Huskies, meanwhile, will feature a new-look team this fall after graduating several seniors, and head coach Mike Benbow saw plenty of positives from his young players.

“I think any time you get an opportunity to go against someone other than yourself there’s lots to be learned,” he said. “Some kids showed us some things. For the most part it was pretty good, but we’re still rusty and still learning.”

Check out Humboldt Sports next week for team previews.

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