By Ray Hamill — After a productive offseason and two weeks on the practice fields, the Del Norte Warriors will get the chance to face off against some of the best teams in the H-DNL when they travel to Fortuna for a preseason scrimmage this weekend.
The defending Big 4 champions will be one of six teams in action on Saturday in what will be a busy day at Husky Stadium.
And expectations will be high once again this year for the Warriors, who are coming off another outstanding season last fall and have several key returning players.
“I want to see our kids competing,” head coach Nick White said of this week’s scrimmage. “You only get so much out of practice. I want to see them play at high tempo.
“We need to get to a certain point where we feel we can compete against Kelseyville next week.”
The Warriors, who feature a nice blend of seniors and juniors, have lined up a competitive schedule this fall to prepare them for a run at another league championship in October and November and what they hope will be another deep playoff run, something this program has made a habit of in recent years under White.
After opening at home to what White expects to be a competitive Kelseville team featuring several returning players, the Warriors will make an overnight trip to the Bay Area to play Piedmont and then play at South Medford, a school of close to 2,000 students.
“It’s not an easy schedule at all,” White said. “I wanted to get us some challenges and we were able to do that.”
The Warriors won’t lack experience this season, with 18 seniors on the varsity roster, including a core group of five players who are all entering their third or fourth year on varsity.
And the veteran players been setting the tone during the offseason and at preseason practice.
“We have a lot of seniors and all of them are stepping up and pushing the tempo in practice,” said White, who had 35 players show up for the summer sessions. “It’s been a great offseason, and the thing I’m looking for now is to see how that hard work pays off. Now it’s time for payoff.”
Seniors RJ Loftin and Jacob Dane are the two most experienced players on the roster and both are four-year varsity players.
Loftin was named Offensive MVP of the Big 4 last season after an outstanding fall running the ball and also is a defensive leader at outside linebacker, while Dane will anchor the trenches once again.
Quarterback/cornerback Cooper Maxwell, meanwhile, is another experienced player in his third year on the varsity roster, as are linebacker/running back Giancarlo Desolenni and receiver/safety Brody Mattz.
And all of them are expected to play a key role when the season kicks off.
“It’s been going good,” White said of the preseason. “We’ve definitely got a good mix of seniors and juniors and they’re jelling really well. Practice has been great. We’ve been doing what we needed to do in practice.”
And the coaching staff is looking forward to seeing the players in game situations this weekend.
“The scrimmage will be a good challenge for us to se where we’re at,” White said.
Saturday’s scrimmage is set for 11 a.m. (JVs) and 1 p.m. (varsity) and will also feature Arcata, Eureka, Ferndale and Hoopa.
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