It was a victory the Mustangs will savor for many reasons.
On Sunday in Crescent City, the Ferndale AAA youth football team appeared in a third consecutive Six Rivers Conference championship game and took home a second straight title.
The Mustangs broke open a tight game with a big second half and pulled away for a 40-16 win over the Redwood Beasts.
The players got a welcome visit from a local legend in the week leading up to the big showdown, when former Ferndale High head coach Kim Jorgensen showed up at practice to talk to the team.
“I think it really made a difference,” Coppini said. “When he talks, he’s a legend, so they listen.”
The pep talk inspired the young Ferndale players to a big second half, with several players stepping up.
None more so than eighth grader Luke Dixon, who gave his team a big lift every time they needed one.
“He’s kind of the heart and soul of this team,” Coppini said. “His mom is sick and she made the trip up there and it was really cool to get the win for him.”
Dixon had a big game on both sides of the ball, scoring a touchdown at running back and making several tackles at outside linebacker.
Running back Liam Bishop also had a big game and led the team in rushing yards, including scoring on a key 40-yard TD run at the end of the third quarter as the Mustangs began to take control of the game.
“That was a huge play,” Coppini said.
Check out video of QB William Shaw scrambling for a big gain during Sunday’s game above …
Quarterback William Shaw added two TD runs and did a good job “keeping composed,” according to the offensive coordinator.
One of his TD runs came on a third-and-goal from the 15.
Preston Killingsworth also was influential in the win, leading the team in tackles and scoring on a 20-yard reverse on a fourth-and-goal.
“That was the biggest play of the game,” Coppini said. “It was pretty special.”
Check out Preston Killingsworth’s big TD run above …
Cornerback Aidan Ayers also had a big afternoon shutting down one of the Beasts’ main offensive threats.
“He’s one of the smallest kids on the team and he locked down their 6-4 receiver,” Coppini said.
This year’s team also included Ivan Amador, Brandon Bailey, Larry Begaye, Kelton Braud, Rally Bruebaker, Landon Costa, Ellis Daniels, Cody Frank, Mason Garrett, Obadiah Gobel, Rigel Hubner, Koah Hessler, Josh Hindley, Greyson Mathews, Garyn McClurg, Cash Mobley, Rueben Peridia, Cade Renner, Colton Renner, Gary Robinson and Robert Rodoni.
The team is coached by head coach Levi Buck and assistants Brandon Brazil, John Losa and Coppini.
The win avenged an earlier defeat to the Beasts in the regular season.
In the other Six River Conference championship games, Ferndale defeated Eel River 12-0 in AA and McKinleyville defeated Ferndale 19-12 in Single-A.
We’ll have more on those two games later this week.