By Ray Hamill — After watching the weekend game at Albee Stadium, we may have over-estimated the gap between the top two teams in our rankings, but not the order.
The Del Norte Warriors had to battle all the way against the Eureka Loggers, but came away with a well-deserved 21-14 win, and that leaves them at No. 1 in our rankings, where they have been all year.
The victory keeps the Warriors on track to win a third consecutive Big 4 championship — there was none awarded in the COVID-shortened season in the spring of 2021 — with games against St. Bernard’s (away) and Fortuna (home) remaining.
And because of that, we feel good about keeping them No. 2 in the rankings.
St. Bernard’s also remains steady at No. 3, as the Crusaders get set for a huge matchup this weekend against Del Norte in Eureka.
A victory for the Crusaders would see them take over over sole possession of top spot in the league standings, whereas a loss would set up a huge season-ending matchup against Eureka the following week, with a playoff spot on the line.
The McKinleyville Panthers also remain steady at No. 4 after winning for the fourth straight weekend and improving to 4-0 in the Little 4.
The Panthers secured at least a share of this season’s league title with a shutout win at Ferndale and ended a long championship drought.
We do have one change in our rankings this week, and that comes at No. 5, where a resilient Arcata Tigers team replaces Hoopa, whom they beat 21-16 over the weekend.
The two teams split the league series this season, but the Tigers have won two of their last three games and are trending in the right direction, while the Warriors have dropped two of their last three games.
The Fortuna Huskies remain on the bubble after a strong showing against the Crusaders.
1 — Del Norte (6-1)
The Warriors play at No. 3 St. Bernard’s this weekend
2 — Eureka (3-3)
What a difference three weeks made for the Loggers
3 — St. Bernard’s (4-4)
The Crusaders will have to play with more composure if they want to make the playoffs
4 — McKinleyville (5-3)
The Panthers are league champs!
5 — Arcata (3-5)
The Tigers have won two of three to remain in contention in the L4