NCS FOOTBALL — Which H-DNL teams are in, which are on the bubble

Photos by Ray Hamill/

By Ray Hamill — The North Coast Section playoffs essentially get under way this week for some of the H-DNL football teams, who have to win their final game just to qualify or be eligible.

In order to be playoff eligible, a team must finish with a .500 or better record on the season, or in league play, or against teams within their division.

That sets up some intriguing matchups this weekend, most notably at St. Bernard’s on Saturday afternoon, when the Crusaders host the Eureka Loggers in what is a must-win game for them.

The Crusaders are 4-5 on the season and 1-1 in league play, while Eureka is 3-4 in games played and 0-2 in league.

But the Loggers have won their only Division-5 game (against SB) and are ranked No. 5 in the bracket, according to MaxPreps.

If eligible, St. Bernard’s should comfortably make the eight-team field, but they need to win on Saturday.

“We know it’s playoff week now,” St. Bernard’s head coach Matt Tomlin said. “We play Eureka, and if we win we get to play again, and if we lose it’s on to basketball season.”

The McKinleyville Panthers, meanwhile, are champions of the Little 4 and guaranteed a playoff spot, while Del Norte and South Fork will both also comfortably make the playoffs.

The Warriors, who are 2-0 in the Big 4, clinched at least a co-championship with a big win at St. Bernard’s on Saturday and they will look to secure an outright championship when they host Fortuna this Friday.

If they achieve that, they would also get a home playoff opener next week.

As of right now, the Warriors are ranked No. 4 in Division 4 after moving up a division this year because of their success in recent years.

They could also be the best positioned of the local teams to win a section championship in 2022, as the No. 1 team in their bracket, Marin Catholic, is the No. 3 overall team in the NCS and a likely candidate for the open division.

That would clear the way for the Warriors to battle it out for the Division-4 championship along with No. 2 Acalanes and No. 3 Cardinal Newman.

The South Fork Cubs, meanwhile, are 5-1 in eight-man football and will play for a co-championship in the NCL-II when they host Stuart Hall in their final regular season game on Friday night.

A win could see the No. 3 ranked Cubs get a top-two seed, but either way they’re a lock to make the playoff field.

The Fortuna Huskies, on the other hand, have won three of their last four games to catapult them back into the playoff hunt.

They are 4-5 on the season and 1-1 in the Big 4 and a win at Del Norte would make them eligible, although it will be a difficult ask.

Fortuna dropped to Division 6 this year and is currently ranked No. 5, according to MaxPreps.

The Panthers, meanwhile, are 6-3 overall and 5-0 in league play and the only question for them heading into the final game is whether they can close out a dominating league campaign undefeated.


They are No. 5 in Division 7 and as league champs they are guaranteed to host their playoff opener, unless they are drawn against a higher-seeded league champ, which would seem very unlikely.

Two other Little 4 teams are on the bubble as we head into the final weekend of the regular season.

Arcata is 4-5 overall but 3-2 in league play, so the Tigers will be eligible.

They are ranked No. 8 in Division 6 and should qualify even if they lose their finale against McKinleyville, especially if Fortuna is not eligible.

Hoopa, meanwhile, is 5-4 on the season and also will be eligible, but the Warriors are ranked No. 9 in Division 7, which doesn’t guarantee them anything, although a win over Ferndale in their finale would definitely help

St. Helena is No. 8 in the bracket and needs to win against Middletown this week to close out at .500, so a loss for the Saints could help the Warriors.

2 replies »

  1. In order to be playoff eligible, a team must finish with a .500 or better record on the season, or in league play, or against teams within their division.

    Lots of or’s instead of (and’s)…

    Teams with losing records making playoffs is an oxymoron… makes zero sense…

Leave a Reply