The Warriors defense stepped up to the challenge of playing one of the best teams in the entire North Coast Section on Saturday afternoon, but they were unable to match that on offense and lost 20-7 to Marin Catholic in the Division-4 semifinals.
The defeat ends a memorable season for Del Norte, which dominated in the H-DNL on the way to claiming a third straight Big 4 championship and followed that with a stellar performance in their playoff opener a week ago.
Defensively, the Warriors held the Wildcats to a season low in points and well less than half of their season average (46.4 a game).
Despite being moved up a division for this year’s playoffs because of their record in recent seasons, the Warriors competed well against the other Division-4 schools in the bracket, rolling over Tennyson in their playoff opener before pushing the top seeds far closer than anyone else has managed this fall.
“My kids played their hearts out,” White said. “We stepped up to the challenge of playing the top team in Division 4, and not only that, but playing the No. 4 team in the section, and it’s just great to see how our program has grown to that level.”
An Ethan Thomas 25-yard pick-six and the ensuing Daniel Gonzalez PAT were the only scores of the day for the visitors.
Thomas’ interception was his fifth of the season.
Marin Catholic took a 6-0 lead into the break, but the Warriors struck early in the second half on Thomas’ big interception and led 7-6 early in the third quarter.
The lead, however, would last for just two minutes and once the Wildcats added a second TD, their defense would make it count.
All three of Del Norte’s standout running backs were held in check for much of the afternoon.
RJ Loftin finished with 66 yards rushing on 11 carries, while Giancarlo Desolenni managed just 17 yards on 10 carries and Aden Mintonye just 17 on eight carries.
“We needed to run the ball a little better than we did, that’s our strength all year, but their defense was the best we’ve played all year,” White said.
The Warriors closed out the season with a record of 9-2 and will graduate 17 seniors from this championship team, all of whom were freshmen when White took over as head coach in 2019.
“Really, really good human beings,” White said of the senior class. “They’re great kids, they have a great attitude and they worked extremely hard. I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
Marin Catholic improved to 12-0 with the win and will play No. 3 Cardinal Newman in next week’s NCS championship game.