By Ray Hamill — Get ready for an exciting stretch run in local high school football, with several intriguing matchups over the next three weeks, including plenty that will affect our power rankings.
No change at the top this week, with the best two teams in the area both coming off back-to-back byes.
I’m not sure if it’s a good thing to have a bye week right before the most important three games of the season — let alone two of them — and the Del Norte Warriors and Eureka Loggers will need to be focused when they return to competition against each other on Saturday night.
The Warriors will be favored in this matchup after rolling over the Loggers 45-0 in a non-league game in Crescent City three weeks ago.
This will be Homecoming for the Loggers, however, and their final home game of the season, so don’t expect them to go down without a fight.
St. Bernard’s also remains firm at No. 3 this week despite losing at St. Vincent de Paul over the weekend.
The 7-0 Mustangs are one of the top teams in the North Coast Section this season (No. 14 overall, according to MaxPreps) and this game was much closer than the season opener between these two teams in Eureka.
The Crusaders need to win two of their final three games just to be playoff eligible, which likely means they’ll have to beat Fortuna (on Friday) and Eureka on the final day of the season.
The Panthers have beaten all three of their Little 4 opponents through the opening round of league play and will travel to Ferndale on Saturday.
Next week could see a huge showdown for the Panthers at Hoopa in a game that could decide the league pennant providing both teams win this weekend.
And speaking of the Warriors, they remain at No. 5 in our weekly rankings after a bounce-back victory over Ferndale last Friday night.
Hoopa plays Arcata at McKinleyville High this Friday.
1 — Del Norte (5-1)
The Warriors will be well rested when they kick off league play
2 — Eureka (3-2)
Likewise with the Loggers
3 — St. Bernard’s (3-4)
The Crusaders are definitely improving, but will it be enough?
4 — McKinleyville (4-3)
The Panthers lead the way in the Little 4
5 — Hoopa (5-2)
The Warriors likely will need to win out to clinch the L4 championship