By Ray Hamill — There was no shortage of big talking points after an exciting weekend of games in local high school football.
The Big 4 kicked off with two games that both went down to the wire, while a new champion was crowned in the Little 4, although there are still some things to be decided.
The South Fork Cubs also kept their championship hopes alive in eight-man football, while a surprisingly resilient Arcata Tigers team got a key win to remain in contention for a co-championship in the L4.
Here then are five talking points from the weekend games …
1 — Del Norte stretches Big 4 winning streak
With the exception of a disappointing four-game spring COVID season in 2021, when there was no official league, the Del Norte Warriors have been riding a dominating run in the Big 4 for the past few seasons.
Check out Del Norte’s two early TDs against the Loggers above …
They got a scare at Albee but overcame the adversity and they can only benefit from such a tough matchup as the playoffs approach.
2 — A dramatic turnaround
What a difference three weeks made for the Loggers, who were coming off a 45-0 blowout loss in Crescent City in their most recent game and almost pulled off what would have been the upset of the season.
If there is such thing as a moral victory, this was definitely one and the performance will give the Eureka players plenty of momentum and confidence heading into the two most important games of the season for them.
If they continue to play like they did on Saturday, they should beat both Fortuna and St. Bernard’s and qualify for the playoffs.
Check out Rogan Bode’s TD run against Del Norte above …
It’s also worth noting the outstanding job head coach Mike Marcelli and his staff did.
Not only did they have their players playing with a belief in themselves despite the recent blowout, but they ensured the players never lost faith in the face of the early setbacks.
They also had a game plan that almost worked to perfection.
3 — Panthers end long drought
The Panthers are now 4-0 in the Little 4, two wins ahead of Arcata and Hoopa (both 2-2), and they will try to win the pennant outright with a victory in either of their final two games.
Head coach Fel Barlow and his staff have done an outstanding job with a program that has struggled in recent years and they deserve a ton of credit for what this team has achieved this year.
Senior running back Grant Omey has played a pivotal role for the Crusaders since coming back from injury earlier this season and that continued to be the case at Fortuna on Friday.
Omey had 19 carries for 261 yards in a 33-28 win and broke free for two long touchdown runs, the second of which turned out to be the game-winning score in the second half.
Check out both of Omey’s TD runs above …
The Crusaders got the victory to keep their playoff hopes alive — barely — but it was an ugly performance and one that left head coach Matt Tomlin disappointed.
They played without any real composure or discipline, which is not something we see very often from a Tomlin coached team and something I expect they will clean up before a huge game at home to Del Norte on Saturday.
Check out some more St. Bernard’s highlights below …
5 — The Cubs are contenders
Another coach who continues to do an outstanding job is South Fork’s Karl Terrell.
The long-time Cubs coach once again has his team in contention for a league title as a young roster continues to progress week to week.
After losing at Branson three weeks ago, the Cubs have now won two straight — including a 30-6 win over Upper Lake on Friday — and victories in their final two games will guarantee them at least a co-championship in the NCL-II.
For the season, South Fork is now 5-1 against eight-man opposition.