By Ray Hamill — As they always seem to do, the Del Norte Warriors handled last week’s disrespectful seeding for the North Coast Section football playoffs with class.
Instead of complaining about it on a public platform or feeling sorry for themselves, they instead made a statement with their play and the manner in which they crushed Tennyson, using the slight to fuel their drive.
A 50-14 win over the higher seeds was the perfect response to the inexplicable seed they received and one that sent the NCS and the seedings committee a clear message.
If this is the way the NCS seedings committee handle their affairs, something needs to change, although the manner in which the Warriors responded won’t surprise anyone who has followed this team over the past few years.
Under head coach Nick White and his staff — which includes twin brother Chris — the Warriors have evolved into not just the best football team in the H-DNL but arguably the best program in the entire league (any sport) and one by which all others should be gauged.
Their success on the field is matched by the way they handle themselves on and off of it.
Football, more than most sports, needs a strong team culture, where the team leaders consistently convey a strong work ethic and the right way to do things, and one that continues to feed off itself year to year because of that.
That’s what the Warriors do, and it’s another reason so many former Del Norte players are succeeding at the collegiate level and are ready to play when they get there.
It all starts with the coaching, and White has proven to be one of the very best in the H-DNL.
Admittedly, it helps when you have the deepest pool of youth football players in the Six Rivers Conference and a consistently strong JV program, but the varsity coaches deserve a ton of credit for what they are doing and the lessons they have instilled in their players, who themselves deserve credit for instilling those standards in the younger players.
Unfortunately, the surprising seed the Warriors received for the playoffs wasn’t the only concerning decision made by the NCS in regard to Del Norte this year.
They were also the only team out of 120 NCS football programs that was moved up a division for 2022.
The decision, according to NCS bylaws, was based on “competitive division criteria,” and took into account how teams fared during the 2018, 2019 and 2021 seasons.
Still, it seems bizarre that a team that did not win a section championship should be moved up, when none of the eight NCS champions were.
At the very least, a team moving up should be a section champion the previous year.
But the Warriors, to their credit, have taken it all in their stride, concerning themselves only with what they can control.
Their path to a section title will be a difficult one because of the switch, with a trip this weekend to play their semifinal at Marin Catholic, the No. 1 seed in their bracket and the No. 4 ranked team in the entire NCS.
The Warriors, who are now ranked No. 11 in the NCS, will be the underdogs, but they won’t shy away or back down, and win or lose they’ll walk away with their heads held high.
Ultimately, whenever it is their season concludes, they will celebrate what was another outstanding and memorable campaign for this impressive program.
No matter what the NCS might think.