Del Norte

Big 4 coach believes league race is wide open this fall

Photos by Ray Hamill/

By Ray Hamill — It’s no secret how competitive Big 4 football can be year-to-year, and at least one coach believes that’s going to be the case once again this season.

The league not only features some of the best coaching in the North Coast Section, but also produces some of the most competitive teams in the section playoffs each year, not to mention state contenders most seasons.

In fact, both Fortuna and St. Bernard’s (twice) have won state championships in recent years, while both Del Norte and Eureka have reached the state playoffs.

This new high school football season kicks off next week, with the Big 4 schedule beginning in late October.

And Del Norte head coach Nick White, whose team are the reigning league champs, believes it’s a wide open race once again.

“Everybody’s so talented and the coaching is so good up here, and I think everybody has a chance at the league title,” he said. “We’re just hoping to put ourselves in a position to win.”

White has built a powerhouse program in his four years in charge, and with 18 seniors back from a team that reached an NCS championship game last fall the Warriors could very well be the team to beat once again this year.

But they won’t be the only contenders.

St. Bernard’s, which swept two games each from Fortuna and Eureka last season, has some big shoes to fill with several dominating linemen having moved on.

But with some outstanding skill players returning and a new crop of talented linemen coming through you can expect the Crusaders to be in the mix when league play rolls around.

Especially with two-time state championship winning head coach Matt Tomlin still calling the shots from the sideline, having recently committed his future to the team.

Fortuna also has a state championship winning coaching staff.

Head coach Mike Benbow and his players struggled down the stretch in league play last season, but you can expect the Huskies to be back as strong as ever again this fall.

Eureka also had a difficult campaign a year ago, mostly due to COVID setbacks, but like with Fortuna the Loggers are never down for long.

New head coach Mike Marcelli brings a lot of experience to the team after having served as the program’s JV head coach for almost two decades.

This year’s league schedule will feature a three-week round-robin format, getting under way on the weekend of Oct. 21.

On Saturday, the Huskies will host a six-team preseason scrimmage, with Del Norte and Eureka making the trip to Fortuna, while St. Bernard’s will scrimmage against McKinleyville at Crusader Field.

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