By Ray Hamill — The biggest game of the local high school football season takes place on Friday night, as the Del Norte Warriors look to secure a second straight North Coast Section championship and a second straight trip to the state playoffs.
The Warriors (10-1) are seeded No. 2 in the Division-5 bracket and will travel to Novato to play No. 1 San Marin (11-1) in a battle of powerhouse programs.
And one coach who knows both of these teams about as well as anyone is St. Bernard’s head coach Matt Tomlin, who has faced both of them this year, including a thrilling NCS semifinal showdown at San Marin this past weekend.
Tomlin believes if the Warriors play their game they will be tough to stop.
“Del Norte has to be Del Norte,” he said. “They’re the one team that doesn’t have to change anything they do.”
The Warriors are predictable with their run game and yet teams still cannot stop them, thanks to very strong and powerful offensive and defensive lines and a group of players who are students of the game and always well prepared under head coach Nick White and his staff.
“If Del Norte continues to do what they do, I think they’ll come out on top,” Tomlin said.
The Warriors, of course, won’t be taking anything for granted against a very good San Marin team.
Running back Justin Guin has been close to unstoppable all season for the Mustangs and will present a major challenge for the Del Norte defense.
Guin has 1,923 yards rushing this year and 31 total touchdowns, and he is averaging over 160 yards on the ground per game.
Tomlin, however, believes Guin and the Mustangs won’t get any easy yards against a Warriors defense that has completely shut down opponents’ running games over the second half of the season.
“It’s really hard to run up the middle against Del Norte,” he said. “They’ll probably have to use an outside zone stretch running scheme and try to get to the edge against them.”
Tomlin also believes the Warriors will have to account for a balanced San Marin offense with some talented receivers, in particular slot receiver Frankie Quinci.
“He’ll be a tough matchup for Del Norte,” the St. Bernard’s coach said. “He’s quick and they utilize him well off play action.”
Friday’s game is scheduled for 7 p.m. and will be streamed live through the NFHS Network and broadcast on KPOD 97.9 FM.