By Ray Hamill — The H-DNL is looking into the possibility of rescheduling this past weekend’s football game between McKinleyville and Hoopa, which had to be canceled because of COVID protocols involving Mack players.
The good news is that all but two of the Panthers were cleared to return to practice early Tuesday afternoon, giving McKinleyville close to a full roster of players after being limited to just seven varsity players last week.
The question now is whether the game, which has playoff implications, will be rescheduled.
There are just two weekends remaining in the regular season and the Panthers and Warriors would have to find a way to play three games in that time if they are to reschedule.
Under NCS rules, the two teams could conceivably play games this Friday, next Tuesday and on the following Saturday, which would be three games in an eight-day span.
However, McKinleyville head coach Fel Barlow said he is reluctant to have his players do that because of safety concerns.
Barlow, however, still wants to play the Hoopa game because of the NCS implications — both are Division-7 teams — and he is hoping the league will agree to rearrange the Little 4 schedule and cancel their game against Arcata, a Division-6 team, instead.
The Tigers are the clear frontrunners in the Little 4 and cruising towards a high seed in their playoff bracket, and a victory over Mack would do to little to further enhance their playoff standing.
Another D-7 win for the Panthers, on the other hand, could be the difference between a home playoff game or not.
The Panthers are currently ranked No. 6 in Division 7, according to MaxPreps, which is not an official playoff ranking, and Barlow believes that two more victories over D-7 teams could move his team up a spot or two.
If they rose to No. 4, it could mean a home playoff game.
Both the league and the Panthers’ L4 opponents would all have to agree to such an arrangement, which is unlikely as it would affect other teams in the conference and possibly the final league standings.
It would also mean that both Ferndale and Arcata would lose a game, unless they opted to play each other a third time, which neither may be willing to do.
It might also affect Ferndale’s playoff seeding. The Cats are currently ranked No. 7 in Division 7 and could solidify their NCS standing with victories in the final two weeks against Hoopa and Mack, both D-7 teams, so they would be unlikely to want to cancel their game against Hoopa.
In addition, the dominating Tigers were crowned at least co-champs with a win at Ferndale over the weekend, but they still need one more win in their final two games to clinch the pennant outright, so they are still playing for something.