By Ray Hamill — After an impressive undefeated spring season earlier this year, big things are expected out of the Eureka Loggers on the football field this fall.
Eureka fans got their first look at the team at a scrimmage over the weekend, and despite missing several players because of COVID protocols, the Loggers showed signs they will be competitive this year.
“This is a really good group to work with. They’re just so bought in,” head coach Andrew Haraldson said. “Every kid out there, they work really hard and put the team first.”
That’s a good sign for the Loggers, as is the fact they return all five starters along the offensive line, as well as a newcomer who is expected to play a key role for the unit, giving Haraldson plenty of depth in the trenches.
They also have a junior quarterback who is expected to be one of the best on the North Coast, and a stable of talented running backs and receivers that will keep the rest of the Big 4 guessing.
Add to the mix the return of assistant coach Garett Montana, who will be helping out again and was on hand at the scrimmage over the weekend, and that collectively makes the Loggers the team to beat on the North Coast this fall.
“Our expectations are to get better every day. I know it sounds like a cliche, but that’s where our focus is,” Haraldson said. “I expect us to be competitive and be good. We’re returning a lot of players.”
Among the key returning starters is junior Joe Gonzalez, who was a first-team all-league selection as a sophomore, and will be a force on both sides of the ball, wherever he lines up.
“He can play anywhere,” said Haraldson, who will utilize Gonzalez at center, tight end, running back and defensive end.
In addition to Gonzalez, Shyloh Nicholson, Sky Barone, Carlos Duenas and Jamin Guilbert all return along the line, while senior Sherman Barney also joins the team this year and is expected to start at left guard.
Sophomore Lane Ford will also see some time on the unit and along the defensive line, and he is expected to have an immediate impact at the varsity level.
Junior Hans Chalmers, meanwhile, will start at quarterback and will have plenty of weapons at his disposal at the skill positions, led by Rogan Bode, Larry Jimenez and Kyro Jimenez.
“We’re returning a lot of guys who made plays last year,” Haraldson said.
Chalmers, who is also one of the top cornerbacks in the H-DNL, has grown physically and as a player.
“He worked hard in the weight room and he got himself stronger,” Haraldson said. “And he really understands the offense better. He really understands the game at a high level now.”
The Loggers open at home to Foothill on Friday night and will also play Windsor (away), Ukiah (home) and Shasta (away), before a six-game Big 4 schedule.
They will play their home games at Albee Stadium.