By Ray Hamill — Four local teams remain in the hunt for a North Coast Section championship as we head into this weekend’s semifinals.
Three of them, however, will have to play against No. 1 seeds in their brackets and all four will play on the road against higher seeds.
First up, on Friday night, St. Bernard’s will play at San Marin in Division 5, in a matchup that has become a rivalry of sorts with so many recent postseason meetings between these two programs.
Interestingly, the Mustangs were top seeds last year also and it was the Crusaders who pushed them closer than any other team on their way to a state title, losing by just one point.
San Marin is ranked No. 21 in the NCS, according to MaxPreps, while SB is No. 36.
The weekend playoff action continues on Saturday with three afternoon games.
In Division 4, the Del Norte Warriors will play top seed Marin Catholic.
The Wildcats are ranked No. 4 in the NCS and will be a big challenge, but the Warriors won’t be intimidated and have moved up to No. 11 in the NCS after their statement victory at Tennyson.
The Warriors won their playoff opener 50-14, while the Wildcats beat Newark Memorial 69-0.
Also on Saturday afternoon, McKinleyville will play No. 1 seed St. Vincent de Paul in a Division-7 matchup.
The Mustangs beat Hoopa 28-15 in their playoff opener and Warriors head coach Floyd “Cowboy” Billings, who is familiar with both teams, believes the Panthers’ physicality will cause the top seeds problems.
McKinleyville is seeded No. 5 and is coming off a 9-0 victory over Willits.
The Panthers’ defense certainly has been impressive this season and will look to slow down a dangerous Mustangs offense.
St. Vincent is ranked No. 18 in the NCS, while McKinleyville is No. 43.
And rounding out the weekend action involving local teams, the No. 3 South Fork Cubs will travel to play the No. 2 Branson Bulls in the eight-person bracket.
Branson is now 9-2 on the season and defeated the Cubs 38-8 in early October.
The Cubs are 7-4.