By Ray Hamill — Crescent City is becoming quite the fortress for Del Norte football.
The Warriors will host a fifth playoff game in two seasons on Friday night, when Miramonte comes to town for a North Coast Section Division-5 semifinal, and if recent history is any indication the visitors will have their hands full.
The Warriors did lose a state championship game at home two years ago, but in the past three NCS games in Crescent City they have held their opponents to just one touchdown on each occasion and won all three.
And they seem to be getting stronger.
Since the beginning of October, the Warriors have outscored four opponents at home by a combined 150-13, including two shutout victories.
“People are excited about it,” head coach Nick White said of the game. “We get another home game and it’s another chance for our home town to come out to watch.”
Miramonte, however, should present a bigger challenge than Archie Williams in last week’s 49-6 blowout, and, as White said, there are no easy opponents at this stage of the postseason.
The Matadors are 6-4 and feature a dangerous passing attack led by quarterback Luke Duncan, who has thrown for 2,765 yards and 28 touchdowns this year.
The Warriors will try and counter that with their trademark relentless running game.
The O-line of Konner Price (LT), Aidan Thomas (LG), Bridger Ratnour (center), Bryson Price (RG), Sam Schauerman (RT) and tight end Hunter Giddings has been dominating all season, opening big holes for a trio of talented backs — Caleb Dodson, RJ Loftin and Giancarlo Desolenni — who consistently finish their runs with punishing hits.
“The O-line, they know their blocking schemes and their assignments and they’re just so well prepared,” White said. “It’s an all-around effort. The O-line is doing their job and the running backs are doing their job and finishing the plays.”
Long and time-consuming drives will be key for the Warriors on Friday.
“Obviously controlling the clock will be a big thing,” the head coach said. “Getting them off of the field and getting us on it, and taking care of the ball will be huge. We don’t want momentum swings not going our way.”
The Warriors, who are seeded No. 2, have won nine straight games and are 9-1 on the season.
No. 6 Miramonte upset No. 3 Encinal 42-23 last weekend.
Friday’s kickoff is set for 7 p.m. and the game will be broadcast live on KPOD 97.9 FM.
A victory for Del Norte could set up an all-local championship game next week if the St. Bernard’s Crusaders also win their semifinal at San Marin.
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