By Ray Hamill — After posting their first win of the season a week ago, the McKinleyville JVs will be hoping to build some momentum over the final few weeks of the campaign.
On Friday, the young Panthers defeated rival Arcata 52-12.
It’s been a tough season for the team, which lost its first six games of the year, but head coach Justin Hornsby and his staff are hoping the win against Arcata can kickstart a late push.
“We’ve battled some internal adversity as far as them becoming a team. That’s been difficult this season, getting individuals to become more team oriented. That’s been the biggest hurdle.”
The win should give the players some much-needed confidence down the stretch of the season, especially with a rematch against the Tigers on the final weekend.
“It definitely gives them confidence and shows what can be accomplished,” the head coach said.
The Panthers played well against their biggest rivals on both sides of the ball, scoring a season-high in points and also coming away with multiple takeaways.
“I thought we minimized mistakes and we were able to take advantage of some loose balls,” Hornsby said. “And I think they finally started to play hard.”
The Panthers will try to keep it going this weekend when they host Ferndale on Friday night.
The Wildcats, however, will present a much bigger challenge as they continue to push for a league championship.
The Cats are 2-1 in league (4-3 overall) after losing to Hoopa (3-0 and 5-2) last weekend, and they will be eager to get back to winning ways against a Mack team they beat 24-0 three weeks ago.
“They’re definitely a good team,” Hornsby said of Ferndale. “We’ve made a couple of adjustments, so hopefully it shows tomorrow. We’ll see how we do. If we show up like we did against Arcata we’ll be okay. If we show up like we did the last time (against Ferndale) then we won’t.”
Despite the adversity they have faced this year, Hornsby likes a lot of what he’s seen from the young players.
“Overall, they’re mostly positive,” he said. “They want to play, they want to learn. It’s a good bunch of kids and it’s going to be nice to watch them grow into young adults.”
Friday’s game is set for 5 p.m. and is part of the McKinleyville Homecoming festivities.