By Ray Hamill — Are you ready for some football?
There will be plenty of it on Friday night, when the local high school season kicks off.
Seven of the nine local varsity teams will be in action, including five here on the North Coast, with another game at Crusaders Field on Saturday afternoon.
One all-local matchup will feature two new head coaches, when Matt Magers and the Arcata Tigers travel down the 101 a few miles to play Mike Marcelli and the Eureka Loggers at Albee Stadium.
That game will also give us a first look at senior Rogan Bode, who takes over at quarterback for the home team after looking very sharp at last weekend’s preseason scrimmage.
The second all-local matchup on Friday night sees the Hoopa Warriors travel to Miranda to play the South Fork Cubs, as they renew their Little 4 rivalry.
The Warriors also looked good at Saturday’s preseason scrimmage.
They moved the ball well against some Big 4 opponents, all of which suggests the high expectations at Hoopa this year might be justified.
The Cubs, meanwhile, also will have high expectations.
The Miranda school has become an eight-man powerhouse in recent years under head coach Karl Terrell and they should make a seamless transition to 11-man ball for the first two weeks of the 2022 season.
Fridays matchup in Miranda could be one of the best of the weekend.
The Del Norte Warriors also open at home and will host Kelseyville under the lights in Crescent City.
Del Norte head coach Nick White has established a perennial North Coast Section contender and there’s every reason to expect that to continue this year.
Is there a better team on the North Coast right now than Del Norte?
Two other H-DNL teams will kick off on the road on Friday night, including the Ferndale Wildcats, who open at Fall River in an intriguing showdown between two small school programs that play a similar brand of football.
It should be a good test for the Cats, who feature an evolving junior-heavy line.
The Fortuna Huskies also open on the road on Friday night at University in what should also be a good early-season test.
The Panthers are always competitive and are coming off five straight winning seasons, including a 13-1 mark in 2021.
Rounding out a busy weekend for the H-DNL teams, the St. Bernard’s Crusaders will host St. Vincent de Paul on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. in what also should be a good early-season test.
The two teams, who are both perennial playoff contenders, will meet again in Petaluma later in the season.
The McKinleyville Panthers, meanwhile, will have an opening-week bye before kicking off their season at home to Anderson next week.