By Ray Hamill — Ethan Thomas had a career night for Del Norte at McKinleyville High on Friday, as the Warriors continued to roll with a comprehensive 48-3 win.
The visitors, who scored on their opening four possessions, led 35-0 at halftime and were in control throughout on their way to improving to 4-1.
“McKinleyville’s pretty tough. They haven’t given up a ton of points this year, so offensively I was really happy with the performance,” Del Norte head coach Nick White said.
Thomas was instrumental in the victory and pulled in three touchdown receptions, all from quarterback Cooper Maxwell, who continues to look more and more comfortable throwing the ball and directing the Del Norte offense.
“He’s worked so hard to get tp where he is right now,” White said of his quarterback, who is a third-year varsity starter. “And it’s paying off.”
Thomas has been contributing on both sides of the ball and his coach was not surprised to see him have a big night.
“He’s been a great player for us all year, offensively and defensively,” White said. “He’s been great at corner.”
Giancarlo Desolenni, this week’s Humboldt Sports Athlete of the Week, also continued to impress and also found the end zone three times.
The senior running back scored TDs on a pair of first-quarter three-yard runs and added a 49-yard scoring run in the second.
With the game well in control, the Del Norte special teams also had an impact, with Aden Mintonye scoring a touchdown on a 46-yard punt return in the third quarter.
Maxwell and Thomas closed out the scoring when they connected on an 18-yard TD pass.
Even more impressively, the Warriors won without a trio of key injured starters — Jacob Dane, RJ Loftin and Gavin Skerik — although all three are expected back soon.
The Panthers avoided the shutout thanks to a 30-yard Jack Clancy field goal in the second half.
They dropped to 1-3 on the season, but have played three straight quality opponents and should still be a force in the Little 4 when league play kicks off next week.
“We still kept pushing,” McKinleyville head coach Fel Barlow said. “I liked how we played. It was another learning game for them.”
Derek Ray also had a good showing on both lines, while John Randall continued to have an impact at running back and linebacker.
“Derek Ray was out there hitting big-time,” Barlow said. “And John Randall was really a monster out there on both sides of the ball. He was out there playing his heart out.”
For the night, Del Norte rushed for 258 yards, led by Desolenni, who had 125 yards on 10 carries.
Mintonye added 75 yards on six carries, while Thomas had seven catches for 83 yards.
Maxwell completed 10 of 16 passes for 110 yards, three TDs and one interception.
The Del Norte JVs also won, stretching their unbeaten run with a 14-0 victory and handing the Panthers their first loss of the season.
The Warriors are now 5-0, while the Panthers are now 4-1.