Hoopa coach believes Panthers have the tools to beat top seeds

Ray Hamill/HumboldtSporerts.,com – The Panthers play at St. Vincent de Paul on Saturday.

By Ray Hamill — The H-DNL is known for a physical brand of football, and that often catches opponents down south off guard in the North Coast Section playoffs.

And one local coach believes that could be the case once again this weekend, with the McKinleyville Panthers looking to upset the odds on the road against a top seed.

After watching his team frustrate St. Vincent de Paul in their quarterfinal showdown on Saturday, Hoopa head coach Floyd “Cowboy” Billings says the Panthers can do the same and come away with a victory in this weekend’s Division-7 semifinal.

“We frustrated the heck out of them,” said Billings, whose team lost 28-15. “I don’t think they were used to our physicality.”

The Mustangs, who are unbeaten on the year and improved to 11-0 with the win, are ranked No. 18 in the entire NCS, according to MaxPreps, a very high ranking for a D-7 team and 15 spots higher than any other D-7 school.

But the H-DNL has fared well in the playoffs in recent years against other NCS teams, who have problems matching up with the physical brand of the local league.

“McKinleyville’s physical too, and I think they have a chance to upset them,” Billings warned. “We put it on them. We hurt them pretty good.”

The Hoopa coach said you could see the frustration on the Mustangs players as the game went on.

The Hoopa head coach also had words of praise for the officials.

“It was an excellent reffed game,” he said. “It was so fair. I’ve got to give them props. That was one of the best referee crews we’ve seen. They let us play the game. They explained everything to us.”

Saturday’s game between McKinleyville and St. Vincent de Paul kicks off at 1 p.m.

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