By Ray Hamill — Fasten your seat belts, the next few weeks are going to a fun ride for H-DNL football.
The Big 4 kicks off this weekend, while the Little 4 begins the second round of league play, and with just three weeks remaining in the regular season for all nine H-DNL teams, there is suddenly little room for error.
While the Del Norte Warriors are the clear favorites in the Big 4, there is still plenty of intrigue in this year’s league, with all four teams still battling for playoff inclusion and positioning and some of them getting desperate.
In particular, it will be interesting to see how Hoopa and McKinleyville fare against each other next week and to see which of the two league frontrunners learned the most from their first clash.
Of course, both also have to navigate tricky matchups this week in order to set up what will essentially be a championship showdown at Hoopa next week.
On Friday night, the Warriors (2-1 in league play) will travel to McKinleyville High to play Arcata (1-2), a young team that has shown it can cause problems for any of its league rivals.
Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m., and the home team will be celebrating Homecoming.
The Panthers, who are 3-0 and have sole possession of top spot in the L4 standings, will play at Ferndale on Saturday afternoon, matching up against a Wildcats team that is 0-3 in league play.
Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.
The Big 4, meanwhile, kicks off with a matchup that has thrilled us more often than not in recent years, with the St. Bernard’s Crusaders traveling to Fortuna to play the Huskies under the Friday night lights.
Both teams are 3-4 on the season and face a tough battle to be playoff eligible, especially with upcoming matchups against a very dangerous Del Norte team that is 5-1 and has dominated most of its opponents.
Friday night’s game is set for 7:30 and will be broadcast live on MIX 95.1 FM.
The Warriors, meanwhile, will carry plenty of momentum and confidence into their league opener at Eureka on Saturday night.
Their only loss this season came at the hands of South Medford, the No. 13 team in all of Oregon, and they have outscored their other five opponents by an average of more than 47 points.
The Warriors shut out Eureka (3-2) by a score of 45-0 three weeks ago, but neither team has played since that game and it will be interesting to see how each reacts coming out of the unusually long midseason break.
The Loggers will be celebrating Homecoming and they’ll need all the inspiration they can get against a Del Norte team they have not even scored against in their past two matchups.
Saturday’s kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. and the game will be broadcast live on KPOD 97.9 FM as well as through DelNorteSports.com.
Rounding out a busy weekend for H-DNL teams, the South Fork Cubs will also celebrate Homecoming when they host Upper Lake in eight-man football on Friday night.
The Cubs are 4-3 overall and 2-1 in the NCL-II, while Upper Lake is 4-2 and 1-2.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.