By Ray Hamill — It was a memorable year for local high schools sports, with strong showings for the H-DNL on several sporting fronts.
All of which means we had a deep pool of worthy candidates for our High School Team of the Year award.
Our Team of the Year is one of six awards we will be handing out next week, along with our Little 4 and Big 5 Boys and Girls Athletes of the Year and our Coach of the Year.
And this year, thanks to our awards sponsors — The Stove Doctors, Six Rivers Property Management and Mendes Supply Company — we will be handing out plaques to recognize the winners in all six categories.
Here then are our six finalists for our 2021/22 High School Team of the Year, as well as some honorable mentions …
Del Norte Football
The undefeated Big 5 champs came within one win of defending their NCS title and making a return trip to the state playoffs.
The Warriors won 10 straight games and closed out the season 10-2.
Head coach Nick White and his coaching staff have built a consistently competitive program and that should continue next year.
What a season it was for the Big 5 and Charlie Lakin Tournament double winners, who won 27 games and lost just once in the regular season.
Under the guidance of first-year head coach Robin Johnson, the high-flying Loggers never lost a game by more than a run and reached both the NCS championship game and the NorCal semifinals.
Ferndale Girls Basketball
The best team on the North Coast during the regular season, the Wildcats memorably knocked off Big 5 champion Eureka in January and would go on to win the Little 4 and an NCS championship.
Under the guidance of head coach Terra Albee, the Ferndale girls closed out the season 19-6 and were the No. 2 ranked Division-6 team in the state, according to MaxPreps.
The Warriors set themselves apart from all other H-DNL teams this spring with a seventh all-time NCS championship and their second straight.
The Little 4 champions finished 22-6, with five of their losses coming against Big 5 teams.
For good measure, the Division-5 Hoopa girls also posted victories over the top two NCS Division-4 teams, including a memorable 3-2 come-from-behind win over McKinleyville in the Charlie Lakin Tournament semifinals.
Head coach Ryan Colegrove continues to work her magic with this team, which remarkably had only two seniors.
St. Bernard’s baseball
A season for the ages for the Crusaders, who won a first-ever NCS and NorCal double championship for the H-DNL.
Head coach Matt Tomlin was instrumental in the team’s success once again, as was a super-talented and resilient senior-heavy lineup led by the outstanding Nick Dugan.
The SB boys finished with a record of 27-4, including six straight playoff wins to close out.
St. Bernard’s Boys Basketball
Rounding out a phenomenal year for St. Bernard’s sports, the boys basketball team also won an NCS and NorCal double, which was the first-ever for an H-DNL boys basketball team.
These road warriors had to overcome the top two seeds in the NorCal bracket away from home on their way to the D-6 NorCal title.
After losing the Little 4 championship in heartbreaking fashion on the final night of the regular season, the players rallied for a history-making playoff run under the guidance of head coach Issac Gildea and closed out with a record of 24-8.
Arcata Boys Basketball
Co-Big 5 and Charlie Lakin tourney champs.
Arcata Boys Basketball
The Tigers were Big 5 and Dick Niclai tournament winners.
Arcata Boys Tennis
The Tigers dominated once again locally and went on to win an NCS playoff match, the first time an H-DNL team has ever done so.
Arguably the most fun team to watch play this school year.
Arcata Girls Soccer
Big 5 champs and NCS finalists.
Del Norte Track and Field
The Warriors won the boys and girls H-DNL titles.
Del Norte Wrestling
Once again the Warriors won the boys and girls H-DNL titles.
Eureka Girls Basketball
The Loggers won both the Big 5 and Dick Niclai Tournament championship double.
Eureka Girls Soccer
Fortuna Boys soccer
An eighth straight league title for the most dominating program in local high school sports right now.
South Fork Boys Basketball
The Cubs rallied to beat SB on the final night off the regular season to claim their first league title in 29 years.