By Ray Hamill — The Del Norte Warriors (6-1 overall, 4-0 in conference) are not just the best team in the H-DNL this season and still No. 1 in this week’s Power Rankings, but now they are also the top-ranked Division-5 team in the NCS, according to MaxPreps.
And that means Del Norte could be in line to earn a No. 1 seed for the playoffs, which kick off in two weeks time, with San Marin dropping to No. 2 after losing last weekend.
That in turn would be a huge benefit for the Warriors, who will be a handful for any team in the postseason, but especially so in Crescent City, which is a long drive for most teams in the NCS.
Could another state playoff appearance be on the cards for Del Norte? I wouldn’t bet against it.
The Del Norte players will try to keep their six-game winning streak going when they play at Fortuna (4-4, 1-3) on Saturday night.
The Warriors, however, are far from the only local team on track to make the playoffs.
In fact, the Big 4 could be very well represented in this year’s D-5 bracket.
In addition to the No. 1 Warriors, St. Bernard’s (4-4, 2-2) is currently ranked No. 4 in Division 5, which would be a high enough seed to give the Crusaders a home playoff game in two weeks, while the Eureka Loggers (2-5, 1-3) are also in the thick of the chase at No. 6.
With playoff positioning on the line, this Saturday afternoon’s game between the Loggers and Crusaders at St. Bernard’s could have huge implications for both teams.
Fortuna is currently ranked No. 9 in Division 5, according to MaxPreps.
In the Little 4, meanwhile, Arcata (6-2, 4-0) will try to clinch the conference championship outright with a victory at McKinleyville (4-3, 1-2) on Friday night.
The Tigers have bigger goals than just a conference championship this year and are currently ranked No. 2 among Division-6 teams and cruising toward a high playoff seed.
Salesian currently holds the top spot in the D-6 rankings, and the Tigers will no doubt be keeping close tabs on how the Pride fare over the next couple of weeks.
In Division 7, meanwhile, both Ferndale and Mack will fancy their chances of making the playoff field.
The Wildcats (2-5, 2-2), who will play at Hoopa (1-4, 0-3) on Friday night, are ranked No. 7, one spot behind the Panthers, who they are scheduled to play next week in a game that could have huge playoff implications.
Hoopa, meanwhile, is No. 12 in Division 7.
Rounding out the local contingent, the South Fork Cubs (4-3, 2-0) appear likely to qualify for the eight-man playoff field.
The Cubs host winless Round Valley on Friday night, before a big game at home to Upper Lake next week.