By Ray Hamill — A familiar face will step into a new role this year, as the Eureka Loggers get set to open the 2022 high school football season next week.
Longtime JV head coach Mike Marcelli has taken over as the varsity head coach and will get a first look at his players in a game situation during a six-team preseason scrimmage at Fortuna High on Saturday.
And while he’s familiar with his players from their days playing JV, he is looking forward to seeing how they fare against some of the top teams in the H-DNL this weekend.
In addition to the Loggers and host Huskies, Saturday’s scrimmage at Husky Field will also feature Arcata, Del Norte, Ferndale and Hoopa, with the JVs taking the field at 11 a.m. and the varsity at 1 p.m.
And the Loggers will be eager to get back on the field this season as they look to put a frustrating 2021 campaign behind them.
Eureka finished up 2-7 last fall, including a 1-5 mark in the Big 4, and the season never really got going with persistent COVID setbacks.
But early indications are good this year and Marcelli will be hoping to compete for a league crown with a core group of key returning players as well as some up-and-coming younger players he expects to do well.
“We’ve really practiced well,” he said. “The boys are enthusiastic, they’re hustling all the time, and they’re looking good.”
Numbers are down a little with a varsity roster of 28, small by Eureka’s standards, and the Loggers will have to play without their MVP-caliber quarterback/cornerback Hans Chalmers, who has opted not to play this season.
However, Marcelli does have a number of returning players as good as any in the H-DNL, including talented all-around athlete Rogan Bode, who will take over at QB.
Joe Gonzalez is also back and will play a key role at center and middle linebacker, as will fellow lineman Jamin Giulbert, who Marcelli describes as “the cornerstone of our line.”
Senior running back/outside linebacker Daniel Garcia-Hall is also back and coming off a couple of impressive weeks at practice.
The new head coach also likes a number of younger players “that are going to show some stuff,” but wasn’t giving much away beyond that just yet.
One newcomer who will be expected to play a key role right off the bat, however, is Elijah Griffith, who has transferred into the area from Arizona and will play inside linebacker and tight end.
Overall, it’s a team that appears to be coming together nicely.
“What I really like about these guys is that they all like each other,” the head coach said. “They play for each other and they get after each other when they need to. It’s a very good team dynamic and camaraderie.”
The Loggers will open the new season next Friday night, when they host Arcata.