By Ray Hamill — Local football fans will get their first chance to check out several H-DNL teams this weekend, with the Fortuna Huskies hosting a six-team scrimmage on Saturday.
The action gets under way with the JVs at 11 a.m., followed by the varsity squads at 1 p.m., and all six schools will play 10 defensive and 10 offensive snaps against each other as well as some special team sessions.
In addition to Fortuna, the scrimmage will feature teams from Arcata, Del Norte, Eureka, Ferndale and Hoopa.
The Huskies officially got the preseason under way with their own “Midnight Madness” on Monday of last week, with 350 fans showing up at midnight to watch the first practice at Husky Stadium.
“We were the first team in the section to have practice,” Fortuna head coach Mike Benbow said. “It was a very successful fundraiser. It was a special occasion and it was fun under the lights.”
Like the rest of the H-DNL coaches, Benbow will have a chance to see his players in game situations at Saturday’s scrimmage, but he likes what he’s seen from them during the first week and a half of the preseason.
“Our kids are working hard,” he said. “We had a great offseason program and we’re working them pretty fast and hard.”
Numbers have been pretty decent, with 27 players on the varsity roster and 37 on JV, and big things are expected out of a number of team leaders.
Senior Coltyn Corning is back and is locked in a competitive battle with junior Chad Mussey at quarterback, with both players expected to see time there when the season kicks off.
Corning will also see plenty of time at linebacker.
Talented all-around athlete Matt Letter is also back at running back and defensive back, while fellow senior Wyatt McKnight will lead the way on both the offensive and defensive lines.
Big things are also expected out of senior Rogan Gans at receiver and defensive back, while impressive sophomore Jake Houseworth will cause big matchup problems at tight end after a breakout freshman campaign last year.
And the players have brought a businesslike approach to camp this summer.
“What’s impressed me the most is these kids are a no-nonsense team,” Benbow said. “When it’s time to work, they work pretty hard, and they’re doing what we ask them to do.”
The season gets under way next week, with the Huskies opening on the road at University.